Celebrating Toe Blake, born 100 years ago today

Toe Blake

Toe Blake in his 1937 O-Pee-Chee rookie card.

The late Hector (Toe) Blake was born 100 years ago today – August 21, 1912 – in Victoria Mines, Ontario. He died on May 17, 1995.

Perhaps the best overall look at the Ol’ Lamplighter, as he was nicknamed during a playing career that included time on the Habs’ legendary Punch Line with Elmer Lach and Rocket Richard, can be found here.

There are those who say that Blake was the greatest coach in NHL history. That’s for fans and historians to argue, and many will say that Scotty Bowman, who would walk in Blake’s footsteps behind the Canadiens bench and long ago passed Toe in the stats column, is the best of all time.

But for today, what better way to celebrate the achievements and legacy of Toe Blake than to offer legendary sportswriter Red Fisher’s poignant visit with Blake in late 1991, a story that won Fisher the second of his three career National Newspaper Awards. It was published in The Gazette on Dec. 18, 1991.


It was cold, the man on the car radio was saying. Snow, he added, was on the way later in the day. Five to 10 centimetres, maybe, so bundle up warm.

The snow that had fallen in the area several days earlier had formed soft, white pillows on the short driveway leading to the building. On the second floor, a white, lined face peered out of the window, and then quickly disappeared. “Chateau sur le Lac, Blvd. 16289 Gouin Ouest” read the sign in front of the two-storey building.

Toe Blake sat in a hallway wheelchair, his head on his chest, eyes closed. The top of the exercise suit he wore was as gray as the weather outside. The only small splash of color on it was the CH. The words “Montreal Canadiens,” also in red, were below it. The exercise suit bottoms were blue. His hands were crossed on his chest.

“Hi, Toe,” said Floyd Curry. “Look who’s here, Toe.”

His eyes remained closed.

“Don’t wake him, Floyd. He needs the rest,” a guy said.

“Toe,” said Curry, “we’ve brought you some cookies. Wake up, Toe.”

A slim black man named Andrew placed a hand on Blake’s shoulder and shook him gently.

“Wake up, Toe,” he said. “Let’s get you up. You’ve got visitors, Toe.”

Then he reached for the man who had been the very best of the National Hockey League’s coaches for 13 uplifting seasons and shook him again. This time, Blake’s eyes opened. An angry yell burst from his throat.

“That’s it, Toe,” said Andrew, his voice rising. “Let’s get you out of this chair.”

Almost two years have passed since Toe Blake was brought to this place. Only Andrew and the other warm souls who work there see him every day, talk to him, feed him and care for him, because they care. They smile a lot, talk a lot and, it’s imagined, spread a lot of love around as only they can. They understand.

Andrew was on one side of Blake, holding and steering him into the bright, spacious dining room filled with empty tables. Curry, who once played on a Blake team, supported him carefully on the other side.

“There you go,” said Andrew, easing Toe into a chair not far from the dining-room entrance. “There – isn’t that good?

“Look what we have for you,” he said, lifting a cookie toward Blake’s mouth. “Eat, Toe, it’s good.”

Toe Blake, winner of eight Stanley Cups during his glorious seasons behind the Canadiens’ bench, stared straight ahead, apparently hearing nothing, seeing less. It’s what happens to people, Andrew whispered, when they’re locked in the terrible vise that is Alzheimer’s.

Or was he? Does anybody really know?

Once, everybody knew what Toe Blake stood for, how he felt, what he thought, liked, loved and hated. What he loved was to win. Losing was what he hated.

He was rough, gruff, intimidating, wise, compassionate, unforgiving, scheming and hard-working – all of it dedicated to winning his eight Stanley Cups as a coach, including a National Hockey League record five in a row in the last half of the ’50s. Winning wasn’t merely a worthwhile target; it was everything. It was life itself.

Blake wore his strengths as a coach on his sleeve: the dedication, the humor and the violent temper. That, and more – all of it tied in with a remarkable hockey mind.

Frank Mahovlich was one of Blake’s greatest admirers. He felt Blake took care of 50 per cent of what was needed to win.

“I’ve always felt that a good coach is the one who wins,” Blake once said. “But 50 per cent? If that had been the case with me, my teams would have won a lot more games.”

Goaltender Gump Worsley once was asked what made Blake special as a coach.

“There are 20 guys in that dressing room,” replied Worsley, “and it’s seldom you find even two of them alike. He knew each individual – the ones who worked from the needles, the ones who needed another approach.

“Between periods, he never blasted an individual,” said Worsley. “He’d say some guys aren’t pulling their weight. The guys who weren’t knew who he was talking about and you’d see the heads drop. But he’d never embarrass anyone in front of everyone.

“His ability to handle players – I guess that’s what you’d say made him great.”

Was Toe thinking about Gump or Frank, sitting at the table yesterday, a plate of cookies in front of him? Once he was full of life and laughs and mischief and blessed with a thirst for winning. His eyes snapped and crackled with the joy of competition.

Now, at 79, his hair is white and his cheeks are sunken, but there was color in them on this day.

“He looks good,” said Curry quietly. “That’s the best I’ve seen him lately. I was here a couple of weeks ago, and he really looked terrible. I couldn’t believe that was Toe.”

Blake sat at the table, staring. He didn’t open his mouth until Andrew gently brought a cookie up to it.

“It’s good, Toe,” he said.

“Eat, Toe, it’s good,” said Curry, who has devoted the last few years to taking care of the man who took such good care of Curry the player.

“Why wouldn’t I?” asked Curry. “He was such a good guy.”

Toe reached for a second cookie, then a third and a fourth. On and on.

“He wants something to drink now,” said Andrew. He lifted a small glass of cranberry juice to his mouth.

“Have a sip, Toe,” he said. “Wash it down.”

Toe drew on the juice.

“Merci,” he said.

Andrew looked through his gold-rimmed glasses and smiled. So did Curry.

“His appetite is fantastic,” said Andrew. “He don’t refuse food. He’ll finish all of this,” he said, with a wave of his hand at the plate. “Most of the time, this is what he likes to do – eat. You haven’t seen anything yet.”

He placed an arm around Blake’s shoulder.

“C’mon, eat – there you are, Toe,” said Andrew.

“Does he watch hockey games on television?” Curry asked.

“Does he know what he’s watching?” a guy asked.

“I would say yes, to a certain degree,” said Andrew. “My belief is he knows. My own opinion is he knows.”

Curry left to make a telephone call to his wife, June. Toe – who always wore a fedora during his years behind the Canadiens’ bench – reached for the brown one Curry had left on table. In his left hand, he held what was left of the plate of cookies. With the other, he pulled the fedora toward him. Then he ran his fingers over it – lovingly, almost. Then again and again.

“He seems to like your hat,” Curry was told when he returned to the table. “It’s almost as if he remembers what a fedora meant to him.”

Curry blinked quickly. “It’s a damned shame, isn’t it?” he said. “Look at his hands. He still has hands like a bear. Geez, he was strong. Look – he’s finished the cookies.”

Blake stared at the empty plate. Then he lifted it with both hands, tilted it toward him and let the crumbs fall into his open mouth.

“Good, eh, Toe?” said Curry.

“Very good. Remember me, Toe?” he asked.

It is that time of the year – a time for breathing in deeply and reflecting on what really counts. A time for remembering the good times.

Remember Toe.

Below: Blake (right) with Canadiens Punch Line mates Maurice Richard (left) and centreman Elmer Lach.
Courtesy gerryssportscards.com


284 Comments

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  3. trainerguy says:

    I have that same picture of the Punch line however a family friend got Elmer Lach to autograph it for me. Blake was a great player and perhaps an even better coach. Great to see him honoured in HIO!

    Mark

  4. frontenac1 says:

    Just love looking at that picture of Toe, Elmer and my favourite Rocket. See those sticks with the big straight blades,taped right up? Man, brings back memories before curved blades and composites. Thats what we used as kids and man,they were solid. We would use them all winter and then all spring playing ball hockey on the road. By the next winter ,the blade was half as wide from the wear and tear on the asphalt!

  5. joeybarrie says:

    Prust. Top 3 shorthanded minutes for a forward last season for the 5th best PK team in the league. Played 3rd line minutes on the number 1 team in the East, according to the standings.
    Armstrong played on the 3rd line in Atlanta and Pittsburgh, he averages 15-20 goals a full season. He plays big minutes on the PK. I think he came out well in the league and established himself a top two line potential player. I think Toronto miss used him, and he is a very good 3rd line player.
    Andrei Markov is a top defender. He averages 45-65 points in his last 5 full seasons. I can’t believe he is very far removed from being that player again.
    Brian Gionta is a 25 goal scorer and our Captain. Adding him is big.
    Kaberle is a great offensive defenseman. I don’t care that he played for both Toronto and Boston. He averages 40-70 points a full season. He played the QB on the Stanley Cup Winning PP in 2010 and was responsible for 50% of their PP goals. More than half of his 22 points with the Habs was on the PP. He averaged 40 points for a full season with the Habs, and he played 6th D ES minutes.

    Considering we lacked the ability to play a full 60 minutes last season and our PP was among the worst in the NHL we certainly addressed most of our needs. We improved our bottom 6. We have more special team options, which will hopefully give Pleks a bit more rest and equal more points.
    Our top 6 with MaxPac, Cole, Gio, DD, Pleks and Bourque are quite capable. In fact its not a stretch to expect 130-135 goals from them. NYR got 140 from their top 2 line forwards.
    And we have Eller, Gomez and Armstrong who are all capable of giving the top 2 lines some competition.
    We added size and grit. And with Markov back we won’t have to give Diaz top minutes, as he was 3rd last season. And that being said, he is still young and can prove to be quite a good 4th-5th D.
    Emelin has a season experience. And the top 4 of PK, Gorges and Markov, Emelin look pretty good to me. Bouillon, Diaz and Kaberle all playing their specific role.
    With a coach who can play the players to their strength, and give them specific roles, I believe this team has greatly improved.
    The East is so tight between most teams, I believe the Habs can finish in the playoffs if they are reasonably free from injuries.
    I don’t think its a given, but counting them out would be crazy.
    If they won 50% of their 1 goal games and shootouts last season they would have probably finished 4-5 points out of the playoffs. Fix the PP and they make the playoffs last season.
    Remember, we lost 23 points by one goal or a shootout alone.
    An average PP gives us an extra 10 goals alone.

    While I agree some teams in the East got better. Most did not.
    I think we will see a different Habs team this season. And I think some people will be surprised.
    IF WE HAVE A SEASON.

    The last thing I want to point out is, the two worst slumps we had. First was a the beginning of the season where we played 47 preseason games in 2 days… Where we took 4 of a possible 16 points.
    And when we fired JM and put in RC and took 4 out of 20 points.
    Take away PG’s stupid timing and ridiculousness I think we end up differently.
    Change both of those slumps, and that’s 10 points alone if we play at 50%.

    Can’t change any of it now. But it seems to me that Molson and MB have addressed our biggest mistakes and issues from last season.

    I say 7th.

    • savethepuck says:

      You are getting me excited for the puck to drop, sounds good to me, but I do wish people would stop putting ( if there is a season ) whenever they are talking about the upcoming season. I think it’s bad karma.

      “They don’t hang Conference Championship Banners from the rafters here”
      Carey Price

      • joeybarrie says:

        I think your post made me realize the best part of our moves this off season.
        We have more possibilities. And although it isn’t known what will happen, I think we have better chances.
        And the best part will be seeing those chances.
        That’s why I’m so excited. The possibility. That’s what we have. And there is nothing better to cheer for that the possibilities.
        With our young kids coming up and a few contracts coming off the books in the next few years…. We may be cheering for the POSSIBILITY of a Stanley Cup fairly soon.
        Here is to holding on to hope, even if there is no hope to speak of.

    • Chris says:

      Prust did NOT play third line minutes. He played fourth line minutes. Only Mike Rupp and John Mitchell played fewer minutes than Prust when you look at the Rangers regular forwards last season.

      • joeybarrie says:

        You are correct, my math failed me. Ok actually it was my grasp of Math that failed me…
        I think maybe I was adding 4 forward players a line… I don’t know what I was thinking. Either way I was wrong…

        • Chris says:

          If Montreal can keep Prust on the fourth line, the team should be a very good one. And I actually am one of the few that believe they can. I was excited last season as the Habs appeared to have the potential to roll three offensive lines.

          This season could be even better, depending on how nasty the injury situation is. I generally hate line combinations, but I would say that the depth chart at the moment looks something like:

          Pacioretty-Desharnais-Cole
          Bourque-Plekanec-Gionta
          Eller-Gomez-Moen
          Prust-Nokelainen-Armstrong

          Extra forward – White, Weber (swing-forward)

          That puts guys in the right roles pretty much everywhere in the roster. I’m not crazy about White not getting playing time, but I think that Gomez will be given a long look by Therrien and it becomes a numbers game. I could see Gomez on the wing and Eller at centre, but I think those two are going to be penciled in together.

          A wildcard could be if Galchenyuk knocks everybody’s socks off, but looking at the depth chart above it is hard to see where he would play.

          There is a lot of reason to be optimistic this season, even if the team maybe doesn’t make the playoffs right away.

    • HammerHab says:

      I’m with ya for the most part. Where you lose me is the assumption that 10 more PP goals will all be difference making, game tying/winning goals. Toronto scored 20 more goals than last year but it didn’t help them make the playoffs.

      I think MB has done a great job so far in plugging the small holes we had last year. Adding grit and beefing up the bottom 6 at the same time which should eliminate so many of those late game meltdowns, adding an NHL quality d-man in Bouillion, but most importantly the off-ice changes/additions to management & scouting. But there are still some large holes in the boat, top 6 winger, crease clearing d-man, true #1 center. The holes are not sinking the boat but we’re spending an awful lot of time bailing out the water to stay afloat. I am excited about the direction the Habs are heading but it’ll be at least one more year before we see a real good team on the ice.

      ———————————–

      It’ll always be Habs Inside/Out to me

      • commandant says:

        Toronto’s goaltending got worse from one year to the next.

        Is there any reason to believe ours will too?

        Go Habs Go!
        Check out Top Shelf Prospects, my Team by Team prospect reports
        http://lastwordonsports.com/

        • HammerHab says:

          Ours got worse last year as well. Leafs let in 14 more goals than 10-11, we let in 8 more goals than 10-11.

          ———————————–

          It’ll always be Habs Inside/Out to me

          • commandant says:

            And ours should be better in 12-13 than it was in 11-12.

            Last year we spent many nights with only 1 legit d pairing… Markov gives us a 2nd pair.

            Go Habs Go!
            Check out Top Shelf Prospects, my Team by Team prospect reports
            http://lastwordonsports.com/

      • joeybarrie says:

        10 more goals would have put us tied with Washington in goals for and better than them in Goal Dif.
        I’m not saying it would have made us a playoff tea alone. But in a different position the end of the season, and JM’s firing would have been different.

  6. frontenac1 says:

    Agreed Commandant. Those one goal loses last year were killers.
    Especially those third period meltdowns when we couldn”t get the puck out of our zone. Still think we need one big, crease clearing ,nasty Dman.

  7. HammerHab says:

    @ Commandant from the last page

    “Do we even get into the shootout as often if those guys play the entire game?”

    Impossible to know but realstically maybe we avoid the shootout 4 times giving us an extra 4 points. We would have had to win every shootout/OT we lost (16), or win all of those games beforehand to make the playoffs. I think that’s a bit unrealistic as the least amount of SO/OT losses last year was 4 by Boston.

    “And you never answered why it is unreasonable to expect a team that was injured a lot one season to be a lot healthier the next….. we basically did the opposite of that between 07-08 (not injured) and 2008-09 (many long term injuries).

    Injuries are mostly random events.”

    I’ll repost my reply and add a bit to it:
    We’ve had bad luck in the injury department pretty much since 08-09. This consistent injury track record shows an issue with the training staff. Unless the new management has also overhauled the training staff I don’t see a drastic improvement. Certain players are injury prone (predictable) and some have freak accidents (unpredictable, but not impossible). We are not immune to freak injuries. Gionta, Pacioretty, Markov are some recent ones that come to mind.

    I’m reminded of something Therrien said when he got hired. He said the team was injured too much and he was going to fix it. How can you fix a random event? Training. I don’t believe the training staff was good enough these last few years. If they have replaced them with guys who have a proven track record of being excellent at their jobs than I am a bit more optimistic there, but if it’s the same training staff I don’t see such a significant change. My prediction is that we’ll be middle of the pack in terms of injuries. I just hope there are no major injuries to any of our core guys or we’re in trouble.

    And for the record if there was a 6-10 option I would have taken that as opposed to the 9-12 option. I think we’re a playoff bubble team but will need some good luck getting in. I know I’m coming off as sounding negative here but I’m really not. I believe in Kaberle and Bourque, I believe in Therrien, I believe in our new bottom 6. I’m just being realistic and not setting expectations too high. There’s being positive and there’s being unrealistic. Being positive is saying that guys like Kaberle and Bourque aren’t all that bad and they can be good contributors to this team if used in the right way. Unrealistic is thinking everyone is going to have no injuries and career years, and that as long as Gomez is gone that solves all our problems, which it seems a lot of people on here believe.

    ———————————–

    It’ll always be Habs Inside/Out to me

    • commandant says:

      “We’re not immune to freak injuries”

      No team in the NHL is, but there is also no reason to believe we are more likely to have freak injuries than any other team either.

      As for the training staff. Part of the training staff is the coaching staff, and we’ve completely overhauled that.

      Go Habs Go!
      Check out Top Shelf Prospects, my Team by Team prospect reports
      http://lastwordonsports.com/

    • joeybarrie says:

      Something else to consider is the amount of points we gave to East coast teams last season the SIXTEEN times we went into OT, and not winning the shootout.
      Its not just about the points we lost, but the points given to East Coast competitors.

    • Chris says:

      I didn’t catch that comment by Therrien, but it is awfully irresponsible. Montreal’s training staff is generally acknowledged as one of the better ones in the NHL.

      There are a host of reasons for Montreal’s injury record. First and foremost, the boards and glass in Montreal have been universally loathed by the players around the league in recent years, being so hard that we were witness to far more serious injuries that might not have happened in other rinks with more forgiving boards. Here, I am thinking of the various shoulder injuries that have plagued the Canadiens in recent seasons.

      Secondly, let’s look at the major injuries that rocked the Habs last season:

      Ryan White – sports hernia surgery to repair one of the most common injuries in professional hockey

      Chris Campoli – skate got caught in a rut, wrecked his hamstring…that is the definition of a freak injury

      Scott Gomez (9 games) – shoulder injury suffered after being hit against the boards in Carolina by Deryk Engelland

      Scott Gomez (21 games) – groin injury

      Scott Gomez (remainder of season, 14 games) – right eye injury + concussion after being hit from behind/boarded by Tyler Myers

      Brian Gionta (remainder of season, 40 games) – torn bicep, freak injury

      Brian Gionta (11 games) – groin injury

      Travis Moen (remainder of season, 32 games) – concussion

      Mike Cammalleri (4 games) – cut by skate on thigh…pretty freaky

      Andrei Markov (most of season, 140 games dating back to previous year) – knee injury after reconstructed knee gave out

      Every hockey player suffers injuries, regardless of team. Of that list of major injuries, the only two that could even come close to being due to strength and conditioning failures by the team are the groin injuries, and those are rampant in the sport of hockey due to the toll of stopping and starting on ice that is covered in ruts while your opponent is trying to drill you.

      Therrien has been around hockey long enough to know better…that comment demonstrates a stunning lack of respect for the Canadiens training staff and sheer stupidity on his own part.

      • joeybarrie says:

        I disagree.
        JM often played 3 lines and put in players with huge hearts who played their guts out on dead legs. Using your full team, in my opinion, reduces the chance of injury.
        While it is random, athletes know the times you are most susceptable to getting hurt. And over using players constantly can lead to this.
        First off look at Markov’s knee. Clearly there was some mistakes made there.
        Moen missed 3-4 games a season I. His career until last season. Yes there is absolutely luck involved, but putting players in makeshift situations doesn’t help. Instead of playing them to their strenghts and making them adjust too much is asking for trouble.

        • Chris says:

          I agree whole-heartedly with the idea that tired players get hurt more often, and that is one of the reasons why I think the best teams are those that roll four lines.

          But last seasons injuries were not at all indicative of problems with strength and conditioning issues for the team. There were simply a bunch of plays that could have (and do) happen to any player in the NHL.

          If Montreal were the only team that was suffering groin injuries, I could buy it. But every team in the NHL has players that get those, with some guys being more susceptible or affected by groin tweaks than others because of the style that they play.

          I suffered my first groin injury this summer after 18 years of playing soccer. I didn’t do anything particularly different…it was a totally innocent play but the muscle just popped. That’s the way it goes sometimes.

          I’m not claiming that injuries are completely random…there are mitigating factors. Overly tired players is one I absolutely should have mentioned, and you can throw in that the injured players were frequently the guys who were smaller and relied on their skating, thus they might be more susceptible to the strength and size of the bigger opponents they would play against.

          I just think Therrien’s comment that the players need to be stronger to reduce injuries was ridiculous.

          • joeybarrie says:

            When you see the outrageous number of injuries to key players the Habs have endured in the last 3 seasons, you have to wonder.
            Is there a way you can reduce them?
            I think its common sense, I don’t think he meant it as a slight against the trainers. But a comment on playing a different type of game.
            And not having as many tiny players on the ice.
            We brought in big hitters like Emelin, Prust, Armstrong, Bourque, Bouillon and Cole in the last year. Added to PK, Gorges, MaxPac, Moen and Eller we are tougher. Tougher to play against.

      • joeybarrie says:

        Moen averaged 18 minutes a game in his final 10 games of the season.
        Moen averaged 15, 13, 15, 15, 15 in his last 5 NHL seasons.
        Gionta averaged just under 22 minutes in his final 10 games before his injury (excluding the last 3 where he played injured). His average from the last 5 years is 19, 19, 20, 16, 18.
        By the way Gionta had 1 injury with the Devils where he missed 20 games before joining the Habs in 7 seasons with the Devils.
        Since joining the Habs he has missed 72 games in 3 seasons.

        • Chris says:

          Don’t forget that these guys are also getting older. In basketball, you frequently hear the tall guys talk about how you usually lose your “hops” in your late 20’s and have to adjust your game.

          Michael Jordan was always a slasher, but he relied less and less on dunks in his later years and added more lay-ups to his arsenal as his body started to age.

          Hockey players are no different. Improvements in training have allowed players to extend the average length of their careers. Even 25 years ago, it was pretty normal for a player to start his decline in his very early 30’s. Now, we expect that decline closer to the mid-30’s. By 40, only freaks of nature are left in the game.

          This disguises the fact that most of these players have had to evolve their game as they aged. People can still be excellent athletes into their 40’s and beyond, but strength sports do start to see drop-offs. For example, testosterone production in men is thought to drop by about 2% per year after age 30. Given the prominent role played by testosterone in developing muscle, reductions in testosterone would play a role in players’ ability to recover the way they could earlier in their career, making them more susceptible to injury and delaying their recovery time.

          Nonetheless, both Moen (concussion) and Gionta (torn biceps) suffered catastrophic injuries that could have hit them just as easily at age 18. Sports is often a lottery…sometimes you avoid the bad luck, sometimes you don’t.

  8. fastfreddy says:

    For someone that might know,maybe the Commandant, does Perezhogin still belong to the Habs?

    CH = Les Glorieux!!!

  9. Chris says:

    Regarding Brandon Prust:

    My fear with Brandon Prust is that the Montreal Canadiens will make the same mistake with him that they have made with Travis Moen and Maxim Lapierre in previous years.

    Like Moen and Lapierre, Prust established himself last season as an elite fourth line player. His average time on ice, both total and even-strength, was 10th highest among Rangers forwards in the regular season and 11th in the playoffs. He had a similar rank in 2010-11, despite higher minutes, when you factor in the injury situation that bumped a lesser light like Mats Zuccarello above him.

    Prust can kill penalties, throw hits and is generally responsible in the defensive end. But the guy is extremely limited in the offensive end, having never scored more than 19 goals even in junior hockey.

    Take him for what he is: an elite fourth-line player that can also play on the penalty kill, i.e., the same role that should have been kept for Maxim Lapierre, another player who fans and the coaches alike clamoured to push into a role for which he was ultimately unsuited.

    Asking Prust to do more than that is simply setting ourselves up for disappointment, just like so many turned on Lapierre, the previous fourth line darling. I know that many here love Travis Moen, and I frankly find it a bit surprising because I feel like he is a fourth liner/penalty kill specialist that is being played too many minutes and contributes very little offence (with the exception of one flurry last season where he potted 4 goals in his first 7 games).

    When you push people up the depth chart into roles that they really aren’t suited for, you will rapidly find yourself on the outside of the playoff picture looking in, wondering where it all went wrong.

    On a Stanley Cup contender, Moen is a third liner at best and possibly even a fourth liner. So is Prust. I would MUCH rather see guys like Louis Leblanc or even Aaron Palushaj, players who at least have shown some semblance of offensive talent in their junior careers, getting a shot at the third line with Eller over a guy Prust or Moen.

    A more likely scenario for this coming season has Gomez centering the third line with Eller on his left (even though I hate this idea) and Leblanc or Moen on the right. Therrien was the coach, if you recall, that pushed the Habs to acquire 38 year old Doug Gilmour and subsequently played him heavy minutes. Therrien likes veterans, and Gomez is a skilled veteran that is costing the team far too much money. I struggle to see them not giving Gomez a shot under a different coach.

    Barring injuries, where he can jump up to fill in, Prust should be a fourth liner, just like he was in New York the past couple of seasons.

    • fastfreddy says:

      Chris, I totally agree with your post, you took the words right out of my mouth. Moen and Prust are what they are, elite 4th liners, nothing more.

      CH = Les Glorieux!!!

    • Kooch7800 says:

      I understand what you are saying Chis and I do think Prust will be more on the 4th line than the third. Eller will be on the third with Armstrong and Moen would be my guess but that still doesn’t strike me a line that can pot a lot of goals.
      In an ideal world you could have Bourque -Eller -Armstrong as the third line. That would be a decent third line and have White-Prust-Moen as the fourth line. I do think Bourque has shown he can play top 6 but if we could get a sniper that would all the better.

      Who knows what MT is going to do. I really don’ t think Gomez fits anywhere in the bottom six and God knows I really don’t want to see him in the top 6

    • Cal says:

      My 3rd line issue is why waste young players with offensive upside (they project as top 6) there? Develop them in Hamilton, instead of sitting on the bench in Montreal.
      Palushaj has played parts of seasons against weaker 4th line competition and has basically done nothing. Top 6 prospects or players usually create scoring chances against these 4th lines, but nothing has come of Palushaj yet. Has he earned a legitimate shot or does his size and lack of physical play prohibit that move?

      Prust will be 3rd and 4th line material, with PK duties. Until Eller starts showing more vision, he will stay where he is on the 3rd line. He may work hard, but he can’t pass in the offensive zone to save his life. He’s still a project.

      • Chris says:

        A third line of Eller-Gomez-Leblanc would give the team a line of three offensively gifted players that can cause matchup troubles against many teams. I don’t think Leblanc is with the big team, so it is a moot point, but I would far rather see him with Eller and Gomez than Moen.

    • Un Canadien errant says:

      Isn’t “elite fourth-liner” a contradiction in terms, like ‘business ethics’, or ‘NHL Player Safety’?

      • Chris says:

        Ask the Boston Bruins, whose fourth line was a huge contributor to their winning the Stanley Cup, or the Anaheim Ducks, who relied heavily on a fourth line of Sami Pahlsson, Travis Moen and Rob Niedermayer during their own Stanley Cup victory.

        A great third and fourth line can overcome the lack of a superstar-laden first line. That was all I meant by elite fourth line…the teams that have them generally rank quite highly up in the standings.

        • Un Canadien errant says:

          Peter Buck of REM famously quipped that their being described as the best alternative band was like being called the world’s tallest midget.

          Obviously I understand your meaning and I’m being glib. Sports has a lot of these contradictions. Weren’t we told that Jerry White was the best fourth outfielder in baseball, and that he and Rowland Office were the best reserve outfielders, etc?

          I agree that guys like Brandon Prust are depth players, they play a role and are valuable in their proper place, but a team is in trouble when they start to climb up the depth chart due to injuries or plain lack of talent.

    • HabinBurlington says:

      If Prust is best suited for 4th line with PK duties, then that is fine by me. It has been so long since our Habs had an effective 4th line. Yes he will be a high paid 4th liner, but at least we will have a 4th line we can roll out consistently.

      • Un Canadien errant says:

        The Canadiens in the 80’s and early 90’s didn’t overwhelm with talent and speed like they did in the 70’s, but it was unanimous that they were deep and hard to play against, the coach would roll four lines and they would wear down the opposition. If we can return to a similar ability to roll four lines and have each give a good account of itself, we’ll be a much better team. I think Brandon Prust and Colby Armstrong are a vast improvement over Mathieu Darche and Brad Staubitz. If Travis Moen and Ryan White are healthy, we have the makings of an effective bottom six who can contribute minutes, instead of the patchwork fourth-line and even third line that we had last season near the end. Plug in a better-allocated Aaron Palushaj, who should be given a make-or-break chance this season due to his age and experience, and to allow the younger players to remain in Hamilton to play a full year, and we’re not as depleted and unproductive as we were last season.

  10. Bripro says:

    Is anyone more optimistic that our friend Burly?
    I don’t think so.
    You are the true image of optimism. And most of us try to follow your positive perspective.
    I would like to say that I’m in step, but honestly, I’m more cautiously optimistic than that.
    Will Markov truly bounce back? Two factors to consider: His surgeries…no surprise there, and his level of fitness…I don’t think there’s any doubt there either. But given that he’s not 19 anymore, will he be the stud he was before it all started? I certainly hope so.
    One-goal games. One has to believe that Carey will win some of those shoot-out games for which he tanked early last year (7 losses in a row?).
    The additions. I don’t really know the new additions to the team, but I’m hoping that the grit level will be a lot higher, because there’s nothing more frustrating that watching your team get run over, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
    Bouillon. I’m glad he’s back. Give it up for the small guy with the big heart, and the build to go with it. I’m sure his presence will be felt.
    Is it enough? We all hope so.
    So the other teams have tweeked a little, or a lot. Big deal.
    As you said, with the right conditions, one never knows.
    Which is why I placed them between 5th and 8th as well.
    And if Carey stands on his head, the sky’s the limit.
    Look at what Thomas did for the Bs two years ago.

    And with that, it’s time to go to work.

    • Habfan10912 says:

      Good morning Bri. Burly is tremendous. You will love Prust but as Chris pointed out so well in his post above, he has to be played in his proper role. Another big IF is the health of Armstrong. If he can stay healthy this team will no longer be as fun to play against.

      ———————————–

    • Kooch7800 says:

      Burly is a good poster, I will agree Bri. There is just so many question marks for next year it is hard to get too optimistic.

      I think until this team addresses its Defense we are still in trouble

  11. Habfan10912 says:

    @burly Thank you for such a well written summary of your thoughts and hopes for the Habs upcoming season. Most of us hope that your wishes for this season come true.
    @matt jordon. Thank you for the counter point to burlys post. It was well written and to the point as was burlys and you argued your point without throwing out insults and name calling. Good job.
    As for me, to many things have to go right for this team and wrong for other teams for the club to make the playoffs. The team will be a much better watch though.

    ———————————–

  12. commandant says:

    The Other Day we took a look at Canada’s team for 2014. Today our resident Russian hockey guy, Max Vasilyev looks at the Russians

    http://lastwordonsports.com/2012/08/22/what-russian-2014-olympic-roster-could-look-like/#

    Does Markov make it? Emelin? Perezhogin?

    Go Habs Go!
    Check out Top Shelf Prospects, my Team by Team prospect reports
    http://lastwordonsports.com/

  13. commandant says:

    Last season was a year that was categorized by Murphy’s law. Pretty much everything that could’ve gone wrong, did go wrong.

    This year’s team should not face that level of bad luck, and should improve in the standings based on that alone. Our GF/GA indicates a far better hockey team than 15th place, and normally GF/GA are a good indicator of your place in the standings, and aberrations cancel out over time.

    We should see some of this happen. We quite simply can’t continue to lose the majority of our 1 goal games, and win games by big margains the way we did last year.

    Is the reversion to the mean enough to get us to 8th place? I don’t know. But I know it means we likely improve from 15th.

    Go Habs Go!
    Check out Top Shelf Prospects, my Team by Team prospect reports
    http://lastwordonsports.com/

    • Mattyleg says:

      I agree completely.
      We can’t have that many injuries and strange one-goal games go against us again, can we?

      Can we?

      —Hope Springs Eternal—

      • Habfan10912 says:

        If Markov is healthy the power play will be better and some of those loses turn into victory. Question is Matty, how many?

        ———————————–

    • Un Canadien errant says:

      I think we’re being flippant about saying that last year everything that can go wrong did go wrong. Compared to the Penguins, who were without Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, and Kris Letang for long stretches, our run of bad luck doesn’t look all that bad.

      For kicks, here is what I came up with when I tried to think of a season where Murphy’s Law truly prevailed against the Canadiens.

      http://relentlessineptitude.blogspot.ca/2012/07/canadiens-and-murphys-law-in-2013.html

      Some of the things that did go wrong that we addressed were the poor coaching we got from Mr. Martin and Mr. Cunneyworth. Note I say we addressed it, I’m not convinced we solved it.

      Another issue was the team toughness angle, which I think is now under control, with the addition of René Bourque, Colby Armstrong, Francis Bouillon and Brandon Prust.

      Issues which haven’t been addressed are the lack of talent/scoring from the forwards, the very green defence which most would argue is on the small side, and whose offensive/puck moving side doesn’t quite make up for their difficulty in dealing with physical opponents.

      I do think that the one-goal games will revert back to the mean in our favour, and that we should improve in this way. I’m not convinced that it will take us into playoff contention, and I think Marc Bergevin has a green light to stand pat and wait out expiry of anchor contracts and the graduation of prospects, so I envision the team being a seller again at the deadline.

      ———————————————————————–
      This isn’t “Billionaires vs. Millionaires.” Only a willfully uninformed fool would apply that sloppy shorthand designation to this disgraceful power grab crafted by some of the wealthiest individuals and corporate entities in North America aimed against professional athletes.–Larry Brooks of the New York Post

      http://relentlessineptitude.blogspot.com/

  14. HabinBurlington says:

    And in Canadian Rock Royalty news ;-) , Chad Kroeger and Avril Lavigne are engaged?

    http://www.montrealgazette.com/Entertainment/Celebrity/Avril+Lavigne+Chad+Kroeger+People/7124676/story.html

    • savethepuck says:

      HiB, I read your post from last night, where you asked why so many on here can’t see how this team has a chance to make the playoffs this year. I agreed with your assessment and honestly think that most on here that can’t see us making the playoffs are in 1 of 2 categories:
      1. The crowd that is always negative about anything about this hockey team, or
      2. The group that can’t see beyond the fact that this team finished in 15th place last year. This group will not listen to any other argument re: key injuries, management and coaching problems, etc… The only explanation they will accept for last year’s 15th place is that it must mean this team sucks. I don’t think where the team finished is a true representation of how good the team was talent wise.

      “They don’t hang Conference Championship Banners from the rafters here”
      Carey Price

      • HammerHab says:

        3. The group that has tempered, realistic expectations of what this team can accomplish. This group believes in most of the players (yes even Kaberle and Bourque) but also knows that there are still important pieces missing (top 6 winger, physical shut down defenseman) and it’s a big hill to climb which won’t be easily done in one season.

        ———————————–

        It’ll always be Habs Inside/Out to me

        • savethepuck says:

          The season hasn’t started yet, the team has more players under 1 way contracts than needed to start the season, an abundance of good prospects ( as long as they don’t include a few I consider untouchable ), and banked draft picks ( including 3 2nd rounders in 2013 ). They are in a position to make a trade to fill the 2 positions you are worried about. I will be shocked if something is not done to adress the need for a physical shutdown DMan early in the season based on my interpretation of the vision of our new management and new coaching staff. The need for the top 6 forward will be addressed in training camp or will depend on how players are performing early in the regular season.

          “They don’t hang Conference Championship Banners from the rafters here”
          Carey Price

    • Ferg says:

      Please Lord, don’t let these two propagate the species!

  15. Cal says:

    Today will be another in the line of NHLPA and owners meetings that will be a complete and utter waste of time as both parties’ positions will harden from molasses to hard candy. They should just wait until Sept 12th and then do a moronic 72 hour session that ends in failure with both sides pointing fingers. Then, meet again on the 8th of December for a “last chance to save the season” session before cancelling the “Classic,” again, with both sides pointing fingers.
    As fans, it’s time to pick a junior or an under-appreciated college or university team and throw our support there. When the NHL finally does come back, we should not flock back to them. We should tell them to shove their watered-down league where the sun doesn’t shine. {Like that will ever happen ;) }

    • savethepuck says:

      I live in Saint John and follow the Seadogs, which has been very good the last 3 years, but I can’t be too optomistic about this year. Assuming Huberdeau makes the Panthers, he’s gone. Beaulieu is gone, Coyle is gone, along with Phillips, Jurco, Gauthier, and most of their DMen. It doesn’t look too promising here so I need my Habs.

      “They don’t hang Conference Championship Banners from the rafters here”
      Carey Price

      • Cal says:

        Huge ouch in terms of lost players, but now is the “thin” part of the “through thick and thin” equation. The Seadogs will take a couple seasons to retool.
        The Habs’ season depens upon two hard-headed and hard-nosed negotiators. Neither will budge for the next 100 days. It’s going to be a looooooooong winter.

      • Ron says:

        Dale, don’t forget the fact we lose Gallant as coach which in my opinion really puts things further down the scale. I don’t think Kelly can fill Gallant’s shoes.

        • savethepuck says:

          I think Gallant is probably jumping ship at a time when his value is at it’s highest based on the results due to the immense talent he had over the last 3 years. I think if he stuck around for the next season, he wouldn’t look as impressive to NHL teams.

          “They don’t hang Conference Championship Banners from the rafters here”
          Carey Price

  16. Ian Cobb says:

    ATTENTION— Dave Stubbs!
    Any suggestions on how we all get fedora’s to honor Toe Blake at the SUMMIT. Would the Gazette sponsor such a tribute?????
    Campaign to Retire Toe Blake’s Number 6 !!!

  17. boing007 says:

    Agreed. FREE PUSSY RIOT !!!

    Richard R
    Price is an oyster. Unfortunately not all oysters produce pearls.

  18. Habitant in Surrey says:

    @Ian Cole
    …read below, and weep Ian …with joy, hopefully :)
    _________________________________________________________
    Habitant means PASSIONATE HOCKEY
    http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=423049

    Campaign to Retire Toe Blake’s Number 6 !!!

    …and, last, but not least: FREE PUSSY RIOT !!!

  19. HabinBurlington says:

    Where will the Habs Finish this season? (Assuming we have a season)

    In reading back through the thread and the arguments against the Habs possibly finishing in the playoffs, I find some of the arguments strange.

    Why is it wrong to expect Markov to come back to this team and greatly help the team 5 on 5 and the special teams? He had a fluke injury from the skate of Price and a knee injury which many NHL players have recovered from. His first surgery was probably a decision made in haste, based on the methodology used. THe second time the team had him repaired by the leading sports surgeon in North America and also used a methodology widely accepted as the strongest repair, but with the longest recovery period.

    Brian Gionta has been a proven scorer for most of his career and should be in great health this season.

    Rene Bourque may not have the glamour scoring prowess of Cammalleri, but has shown to be a consistent 25 goal scorer in this league the past 4 seasons.

    Tomas Kaberle if used as a 5th/6th 5 on 5 dman and on the powerplay has great offensive skill and should help the powerplay.

    Add to that the increase in depth with Prust, Boullion, Armstrong we now can count on our 3rd and 4th lines to contribute in ways we haven’t seen this team do in years. Also a player like Travis Moen can finally be played in his normal role on the 3rd or 4th line. Eller is emerging, and perhaps a Leblanc surprises us this year.

    All the while we have a very good goalie in Price anchoring the team. Seems to me people are quick to praise other teams and not see that this team could very well improve. I won’t bet money on our team making the playoffs (instead I will buy my usual Vegas ticket that Habs win Cup, as it will payoff someday) but prognostication is always a crap shoot. I readily admit I picked the Habs to finish 5th to 8th as it is possible.

    • Habitant in Surrey says:

      …seconded :)

      _________________________________________________________
      Habitant means PASSIONATE HOCKEY
      http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=423049

      Campaign to Retire Toe Blake’s Number 6 !!!

      …and, last, but not least: FREE PUSSY RIOT !!!

    • matt jordan says:

      The Canadiens are going to jump past seven other teams in the east and grab eighth? Not likely, when you consider the additions to the team are less than spectacular, all of the teams top prospects are likely a year away from making a serious impact, and Scott Gomez continues to haunt the organization.

      Prust and Armstrong are fourth liners. Bouillon is a 6/7 defenseman. Galchenyuk, while he may be one of the best prospects in hockey, might be better served to make up for his lost season in the OHL.

      The top three centres are back this year, and I don’t think any team in the east is intimidated of the Desharnais, Plekanec and Eller combo.

      The defense group last year had one good pairing (Gorges, Subban). Markov was not up to speed last year, and nobody knows if he can recover his form from a few years ago and match where he once was. We all hope he can, but its far from a gaurantee.

      Emelin was a big hitter last year, but visibly wore out and I’m not convinced at this point he’s top four material. Diaz and Weber… Ugh.

      Other than Emelin (who can’t fight), all of the Canadiens defenseman are six feet or shorter, which implies that the Habs STILL are small on defense, which means they lack toughness, as usual. Yes Kaberle is technically taller than six feet, but the words Kaberle and toughness don’t belong together in the same sentence.

      I hope Kaberle doesn’t make the team at all. Long time Toronto Maple Leafs with cup rings from Boston with bloated contracts who are warm butter soft don’t belong on my Habs.

      I hope the Canadiens tank this year, have another spectacular draft (pick up Nathan Mackinnon), rid themselves of Gomez and Kaberle, and maybe even Bourque, and hopefully Mr. Pierre Gauthier will have a new GM job and Bergevin can trade his bloated contracts to wherever Gauthier is working.

      The Habs have basically the same roster returning that was the worst in the Canadiens history and battling for last all year, and they’re going to improve into a playoff team.

      Go Habs. I hope they make playoffs and shed the excess weight. Gauthier was just the start.

      • HabinBurlington says:

        Prust will probably play 3rd line, and will help the pk, just as he did in New York. Why was he considered effective on a better Ranger team and now in Montreal he is lumped in as a 4th liner? Armstrong I hope does help the 4th line, again what is wrong with the Habs shoring up their 3rd and 4th lines? Is it not better to have Armstrong/Gomez/White than having Darche/Nokia/Staubitz?

        Yes Markov was still recovering last year, no one is denying that. But I am very confident he will look much better this year. Kaberle is what he is, an offensively talented Dman who must have his minutes managed in 5 on 5.

        Boullion played significant minutes on a much better defensive team in Nashville last year, why is he suddenly a 7th dman on a team that needs defensive help?

        No one is trying to pretend that Prust/Armstrong/Boullion are here for big offensive production. They are here to shore up the bottom half of the team as our prospects develop.

        Again, just seems to me that any moves (albeit non-major) the Habs make are criticized.

  20. RC-51 says:

    I know draftees get jerseys with their draft year as the #… I guess I was hoping that #11 had just become available again!

  21. Habitant in Surrey says:

    …it was notable in Dave Stubbs’ feature on Toe, the part when Curry was pushing cookies on Toe to eat
    …which Toe did, with relish
    …likely, among Toe’s varied afflictions was diabetes …and in those dayz, most of Us were much more ignorant of the effect on the deterioration that is caused by the complications of diabetes on all of Our organs, including the brain

    _________________________________________________________
    Habitant means PASSIONATE HOCKEY
    http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=423049

    Campaign to Retire Toe Blake’s Number 6 !!!

    …and, last, but not least: FREE PUSSY RIOT !!!

  22. JohnBellyful says:

    POUGHKEEPSIE – NHL owners have come up with a plan to provide content for TV networks if contract talks go nowhere: reality shows for the diehard hockey fan.
    “We’d feel really bad if our broadcast partners were left in the lurch without any programming,” said Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider. “I wouldn’t characterize it as a breach of contract, more like a breach of faith that networks have in us to provide a quality product. The players might not care, but we owners will not destroy that trust.”
    Snider, whose company, incidently, owns Comcast SportsNet, a regional sports network, said he and other team owners have created a television production company, Bite Me Donnie, that’s already begun work on a number of shows that will take the place of hockey games.
    Surprisingly, the contestants in most cases will be the owners themselves.
    “I get sick and tired reading how nobody goes to hockey games to watch the owners play,” Snider said. “Big deal. Yeah, we can’t play hockey but when we’re in a room together, we’re a pretty entertaining bunch. You put us in front of the camera and I guarantee you, it will be riveting TV. Heck, if a bunch of nitwits from New Jersey can get people to watch their stupid antics, they’ll be glued to the sets when we come onscreen. It’s too bad Ballard wasn’t around for this. Gawd, with him we’d be a ratings giant.”
    Snider said the new shows include:

    The Amazing Stanley Cup Race – Owners will travel singly around the continent and face a number of obstacles to getting the Holy Grail of hockey: a big pot of money. Of course, some owners have more resources than others so don’t be surprised seeing some getting about in a Ferrari and others making do with a Porsche.

    The Biggest Loser – Owners sit around a table and debate – vigorously – which team has the dumbest GM and the greatest number of stupidest trades. GMs past and present will be allowed to defend themselves in an attempt to shed their bad reputations.

    Undercover Owner – Owners will mingle with players while they wait for a deal to be reached. Pretending to be caddies, servers, bartenders, masseurs, financial advisers, cashiers, spiritual counsellors, and call girls, the owners will discover for themselves the human side of their assets, and then report at the end how much the experience will influence their thinking when contract talks resume. Most of the owners will not require disguises.

    Survivor – Owners are left on an island. There are no teams as the owners are already divided. What follows is a series of challenges, involving such things as leaping through tax loopholes and swimming great distances to make offshore investments. Only one owner survives and his prize is a commissioner for his back pocket.

    Snider is convinced the shows – and there are 10 others in the works – will draw huge audiences.
    “%$#^$, look at the crap the fans were willing to put up with to watch our games. No one will be nodding off by the time these hour-long shows come to an end,” Snider said.
    “Wait till they see the show we got in the pipeline starring the referees: Wipeout. Wait, that’s not it, it’s … oh yeah, Whack Out. There’s no padding on those obstacles, let me tell ya.”

  23. RC-51 says:

    Why do I keep seeing pics of Nathan Beaulieu wearing a Habs jersey with the #11? hmm……

    • kempie says:

      2011 was his draft year. Same reason you’re seeing Galchenyuk wearing 12.

    • commandant says:

      2011 Draftees all get jerseys with the number 11.

      Just like on Draft Day, Tinordi got a jersey with a number 10 despite it being retired for Lafleur.

      and this Year Galchenyuk, Collberg and others were all wearing number 12, which of course is retired for both Moore and Cournoyer

      Go Habs Go!
      Check out Top Shelf Prospects, my Team by Team prospect reports
      http://lastwordonsports.com/

  24. punkster says:

    Good points below about posts for Toe…so here goes…when I was a kid there were only 2 coaches who mattered to me in the NHL…Punch Imlach and Toe Blake. As a Leaf fan back then the ultimate Cup victory was in ’67 by beating our number one rival. But it seemed like every single Toronto-Montreal game was like a Cup final in those days. I’d wear my #14 Toronto sweater, my brother his #1 Montreal sweater. We’d sit as close to the black & white TV as Mom would allow (“Don’t get too close or you’ll go cross eyed”), each with a small bottle of Coke (remember the green glass bottles?) and sharing a bowl of chips (the Hostess brand, with the hockey token inside, plain because that’s all they made).

    OK, that’s enough…it was great but HD and a beer ain’t bad either.

    ***Subbang Baby!!!***

    • Habitant in Surrey says:

      …I think I would have got along much better with Your bro than Yourself Punk …Plante was My ‘one and be all’ too :)
      …a Weedz fan Punk ??? …man You had a deprived childhood :)

      _________________________________________________________
      Habitant means PASSIONATE HOCKEY
      http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=423049

      Campaign to Retire Toe Blake’s Number 6 !!!

      …and, last, but not least: FREE PUSSY RIOT !!!

      • punkster says:

        Deprived? Not in a village with a real indoor rink (actually just a large barn to keep the snow off the ice, though during storms little drifts would form and we’d have to stop the game to shovel), a pond in the centre of the village (that we’d sneak on when we thought our Mons weren’t watching), and flat fields down by the river (that flooded in the fall and provided a thin ice surface just right for kids).

        Of course after ’67 it was most definitely depraved.

        ***Subbang Baby!!!***

        • Habitant in Surrey says:

          …wouldn’t it be great to go back in time

          _________________________________________________________
          Habitant means PASSIONATE HOCKEY
          http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=423049

          Campaign to Retire Toe Blake’s Number 6 !!!

          …and, last, but not least: FREE PUSSY RIOT !!!

          • punkster says:

            I suppose it would though I’d prefer to go forward. Just put me in the Bell Centre, Game 7 of a Cup final, surrounded by friends and the Habs up 3-2 with less than a minute to go in the third.

            And Sofia Vergara is sitting next to me and just broke up with her boyfriend.

            ***Subbang Baby!!!***

    • HabinBurlington says:

      You see now being a prairie boy, we had old dutch chips. But i was still a Hab fan and had to show my oldest brother of 11 years that his Leafs were not as good.

      Good story, your conversion must have been one heck of an experience. Must have felt like you did indeed get to see Heaven, No?

  25. HabsRepresente says:

    I’m just checking how popular the website is, can you tell me if you’ve ever visited this website or do on a regular basis? http://www.habs7.com Thanks a lot, also check me out on twitter for Habs blogs @jaggerhhope91 !

  26. EasternOntarioHabsFan says:

    Happy Birthday old soul, and may you rest in peace

    God Bless You

  27. Dennis says:

    When I was about seven, my dad took me to Maple Leafs Gardens to see the Habs take on the Leafs. He brought with him a book he had given to me for Christmas, which was signed by everyone except Doug Harvey. We went down by the Habs dressing room and Toe was standing outside. My dad asked him if he would take my book into the room and have Harvey sign it, and Toe did. Imagine. He was very much a gentleman.

    Dennis-Kane.com

  28. Habitant in Surrey says:

    …I hope Dave Stubbs, and everyOne of Us here with ‘a voice’ in HIO and elsewhere will stump from Our soapboxes for Our Montreal Canadiens to retire Toe Blake’s number 6, with the same enthusiasm realized for Elmer Lach
    …Elmer, still being alive, I don’t blame Dave and the Canadiens making the retirement and banner with Lach’s name in the rafters a priority
    …but Toe Blake’s banner not ‘retired’ and not in ‘the rafters’ is an egregious oversight that deserves the honor AT LEAST as much as Lach’s
    …some of You may believe Toe was only a Great Coach, and as a Player, did not quite rate such an honor …and/or Y’all do not want yet another low-number unavailable to Our contemporary Players
    …maybe forgetting Toe Blake won an NHL scoring championship, the Hart Trophy and Lady Byng, …led Our Habs in scoring in 6 seasons of His Hall Of Fame playing career
    …Toe Blake was an essential component with The Rocket and Elmer Lach on the ‘The Punch Line’ which was the most feared scoring line of it’s day
    …most remember Toe Blake only as the genius Coach of the Montreal Canadiens at the cusp of Our Golden Era …the Golden Era Legacy that most of You were inspired by to follow and become ‘ a Fan’ of Our Habs as if it was ‘a religion’ unto It’s own
    …Toe Blake’s name is on 11 rings of the Stanley Cup; 8 as Our Coach, 2 as a Player for the Montreal Canadiens and one as a Montreal Maroon
    …Toe Blake was the ‘heart and soul motivator’ Whom inspired and ‘showed the way’ to Our great Players of the time, both as a Player and as Our Coach
    …Toe Blake’s own Legacy is greatly taken for granted, I strongly believe, by the fact Toe Blake’s number 6 is not represented to this day in the rafters of the Bell Centre
    …the TOTALITY of Toe Blake’s Legacy, as a Player and Our Coach, to the History and the exceptional success of the Montreal Canadiens as the most famous brand in the Hockey World is way past the ‘overdue’ stage
    …I wish to request all Montreal Canadiens Fans to right this wrong
    …I suggested to Ian to theme this year’s Summit on Toe Blake …to incorporate some homage to Toe …maybe even make a request to Hurley’s Tavern to try to replicate the ambiance of the famed former Toe Blake’s Tavern
    …Ian very enthusiastically supported the concept, but because of some ‘negativity’ of some other members of HIO, and the then overwhelming logistics of tickets and arranging other detail, had to back-off
    …I will leave that to Ian of what He wants to integrate into this year’s Summit (if there, indeed, is a game to attend), or decide what is still ‘doable’ in that regard …knowing Ian, He is more than capable to do whatever is possible
    …meanwhile, some clear input must be made by Habs Fans that agree with the objective, to let Their feelings and opinions be known …to Ian, Geoff Molson and Montreal Canadiens Management
    …that means You !!! Boyz and Goilz
    …if this is something You would like to make right as I and Ian do, I provide the following mail contacts to send Your requests to ‘Retire Number 6 !!!’
    …if anyOne out there have other suggestions please let Ian know …they, I am sure, will be considered and appreciated

    The following are the most relevant to send your testamonial to Retire Number 6 !!!:
    Geoff Molson: President and Owner (Twitter; @gmolsonchc)
    Kevin Gilmore: VP Operations

    Send your testamonial to:

    [Name of person]
    c/o The Montreal Canadiens
    1909, avenue des Canadiens-de-Montréal
    Montreal, QC, CANADA
    H3C 5L2

    …My personal suggestion is, since this is Toe’s birth centenary, for EVERYONE attending the game and events around the Summit to wear a facsimili of a Fedora …both the Guyz & Dollz

    …I think it would add an element of fun, interest and focus to the Summit …it may be picked-up on by the CBC and Montreal’s media

    …and, wouldn’t it be fun watching Ian, as HIO’s spokesman, to be sitting between Ron McLean and Don Cherry explaining why a horde of inebriated HIO Nutz are sitting in the stands with goofy fedoras :)

    …as well, I propose, in the interval, that We in HIO can organize ‘a petition’ to honor Toe Blake that can be sent to Geoff Molson and Team Management to consider retiring Toes’ number six in the rafters this year, the centenary of this Great ex-Habs’ birth

    …how ’bout it Guyz & Dollz ???

    _________________________________________________________
    Habitant means PASSIONATE HOCKEY
    http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=423049

    Campaign to Retire Toe Blake’s Number 6 !!!

    …and, last, but not least: FREE PUSSY RIOT !!!

    • JohnBellyful says:

      You make compelling points to mount an HIO-led campaign to have Toe properly recognized by the team that profited from his many contributions. The idea of Summiteers wearing fedoras should the Oct. 27 game be played is intriguing and worth considering if there’s the slightest chance it would influence the team as you wish. It would be the first hat trick scored by fans.
      If it hasn’t been a poll question, it’s time it became one: Should the Montreal Canadiens retire Toe Blake’s number?

      • Habitant in Surrey says:

        …thanks Johnny …appreciate the support
        …hope Others will also see this can be a worthwhile and enjoyable thing for HIO to get behind

        _________________________________________________________
        Habitant means PASSIONATE HOCKEY
        http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=423049

        Campaign to Retire Toe Blake’s Number 6 !!!

        …and, last, but not least: FREE PUSSY RIOT !!!

        • Un Canadien errant says:

          Dude you should be there to take command, be the Lead Fedora.

          With Habitant in Surrey at my side, I’d walk down the darkest sports coliseum concession stand concourse wearing a fedora.

          • Habitant in Surrey says:

            …really wish I could Norm …it would be a hoot :)
            …but, will have as much a sense of satisfaction seeing all Y’all doin’ the right thing at the Summit too :)

            _________________________________________________________
            HIO’s BC Odd Couple: UCe, the supercilious stickler; and HIS, the stubbornly relentless ‘schismatist’ :)
            _________________________________________________________
            Habitant means PASSIONATE HOCKEY
            http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=423049

            Campaign to Retire Toe Blake’s Number 6 !!!

            …and, last, but not least: FREE PUSSY RIOT !!!

        • Rozz says:

          I’m in like sin! I have a collection of about 25 fedora’s.. i love any occasion to wear them :D

          .. mind you I cannot attend the summit but I’ll take a picture of me in my fedora and send it along to be displayed just the same lol

          “When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.”

          Mark Twain.

          • Habitant in Surrey says:

            …You being there ‘in spirit’ is the next best thang Rozz :)
            …You may think about renting-out Your fedoras to those going and too cheap to buy :)

            _________________________________________________________
            Habitant means PASSIONATE HOCKEY
            http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=423049

            Campaign to Retire Toe Blake’s Number 6 !!!

            …and, last, but not least: FREE PUSSY RIOT !!!

          • Rozz says:

            hey if some needs a fedora i’d be happy to help out

            “When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.”

            Mark Twain.

      • HabinBurlington says:

        John, that is a great idea. I would however, prefer you pick out the fedoras, I will trust your judgement. Would be incredible if a hat trick was scored that night and we littered the seats below us with fedoras.

        • JohnBellyful says:

          Just to be clear, it was Habitant’s idea that we fans don fedoras for that night. In tribute to his great suggestion, I think we should wear fedoras with a fringe on top.

          • HabinBurlington says:

            Sorry for not giving credit its due, but it really would be a great idea. Would be cool to see all of us wearing Fedora’s mayba a few banners explaining Toe deserves to be in the rafters would help also. Of course we would then have to have the obligatory CBC letters in bold colour with creative words following. Again, I will leave that to you John.

          • Habitant in Surrey says:

            …NOW we’re talkin’ Gerald !!! :)
            …from a small ‘snowball’ doth an avalanche groweth …(or, sumptin’ to that effect :) )
            …let’s keep it goin’ Guyz !!!
            …ideas, enthusiasm, …LET’s DO IT !!! :)

            _________________________________________________________
            Habitant means PASSIONATE HOCKEY
            http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=423049

            Campaign to Retire Toe Blake’s Number 6 !!!

            …and, last, but not least: FREE PUSSY RIOT !!!

  29. CharlieHodgeFan says:

    The first time I read the article above, when it was first published, it stayed with me much more than the average, easily forgotten hockey piece. Now, I help care for a (non hockey) head injured elderly family member, and he is in a Centre with many Dementia and Alzheimer’s sufferers. Over the years, I have thought of this article a few times while talking with these people (in their early stages while they can still talk), and it is something to see again.

    When Toe Blake even just walked by you on the street, you knew a strong personality was passing. So the article reprinted had double the force for the many who had seen him in action as a player, as a coach or in my case, as a hockey legend. When I read it, I had no clue anything in it would ever be part of my day to day, but then again, I had no clear understanding then that the lessons of sports are just stories about real people.

    So put on a fedora or a ball cap, and tip it once to Red Fisher for writing that and once to Toe Blake for having been quite a man. And once for Dave Stubbs for deciding to reprint that.

  30. Un Canadien errant says:

    Not to start trouble or anything, but the torn pectoral muscle or torn biceps is a surefire indicator of steroid use. Or at least it was when it was commonplace for players to use them in the eighties and nineties, before drug testing and all them pesky laws.

    It was explained that the muscle gets so much stronger so quickly that the connective tissue, the tendon which attaches the muscle to the bone, doesn’t have time to catch up, and during a peak contraction or peak load the muscle literally rips the tendon off the bone. I remember Sly Stallone had a torn pec when he filmed “Demolition Man”. Common injury for offensive linemen and linebackers in football.

    So yeah, not to start trouble, like I said, but Brian Gionta had that torn biceps…

    • habsfan0 says:

      Funny,but I never pictured diminutive Brian Gionta along the same lines as Shawne Merriman.

    • Chris says:

      An epidemic of torn bicep or pectoral muscles would be indicative of a steroid problem in hockey.

      ANY muscle can be torn in a freak accident, which is pretty much what Gionta suffered.

    • Habilis says:

      A buddy of mine tore his biceps playing pick-up basketball a few years back and he’s never touched steroids, nor did he bulk up beforehand or anything like that.

      It’s rarer than a blown knee but it can happen to anyone.

    • HabinBurlington says:

      Sly Stallone has admitted he used Roids in his efforts to show he could save the world while being filmed in BS roles. While I am not stupid enough to believe that Roids are used in the NHL, Gionta is nowhere near the top of my list for conspiracy theory perspectives. Find it odd you would throw his name out like that.

    • commandant says:

      As was said on the last page… yes it is a common injury for steroid users, however it is also possible to tear a bicep and have it have nothing to do with steroid use.

      In fact if you looked at all the torn biceps in any given year I would bet that there are far more that don’t come as a result of steroid use than those that are.

      Ie, Steroid users might be susceptible to this injury, but that doesn’t mean that all (or even most) people who get this injury are steroid users.

      Go Habs Go!
      Check out Top Shelf Prospects, my Team by Team prospect reports
      http://lastwordonsports.com/

  31. Habitant in Surrey says:

    …I can not believe, on a thread featuring the centenary of Toe Blake’s birth, that only 2 comments even bothered to mention anything relevant to The Man that was integral to Our Legacy
    …some Montreal Canadiens’ Fans You are :(

    _________________________________________________________
    Habitant means PASSIONATE HOCKEY
    http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=423049

    Campaign to Retire Toe Blake’s Number 6 !!!

    …and, last, but not least: FREE PUSSY RIOT !!!

    • Cal says:

      Most who post here can’t relate to someone whose coaching career ended in 1968. Most were probably not born then. My memories of Toe are of him being carried on the shoulders by the victorious Canadiens after Cup wins. I don’t know much about him aside from the long battle he had with Red Fisher and the astounding success he had as a player and then a coach. Scotty Bowman is more from my generation’s era.

    • habsfan0 says:

      Chris…I was wondering how long it would take for you to jump into the foray because of this article re:Toe Blake…and I agree..more comments should be made about him, but you have to understand,most commentators here are too young to have seen him coach,much less play for the Habs. What a wonderful,humane,touching story by Red Fisher,though. I’ll miss his writing.

    • Bripro says:

      Chris, you’re right.
      I for one should have commented, since he’s the first coach that I remember, although vaguely.
      He was one of the few my father spoke of with respect.
      But when I (re) read Red’s article, which I had in the past, the same feeling came back as it did the first time I read it.
      One of sorrow and compassion for a man who is no longer here.
      But more than that, it brought back memories of my father, who too, is no longer with us.
      And the memories of sitting up on his shoulders during those many stanley cup parades.
      So I chose to say nothing, rather than stir up those mental images, which I had succeeded in shelving, until your blog.
      So with that, I tip my hat to you, my friend, for having the courtesy of respect and acknowledgement for those we should remember, and I tip my hat as I do every bedtime, to my dad, whom I miss very much.

      • Habitant in Surrey says:

        …Bri, My Dad was a ‘man’s man’ …He worked a man’s labor from when He was 6 years old, one of a family of 17 children …He owned several businesses, but they included hands-on physical work, not shuffling paper …up at 4, 5 in the mornings and sleep at midnight …He went to war …He would not sit still for pride and the insatiable responsibility to ‘provide’ for My sister and I

        …His indelible influence on Me is the reason nothing in My Life means more to Me than ‘being there’ for My Children …I far prefer ‘doing things’ with and for My Children than any other supercilious temporary pleasures

        …My Dad was never happy unless He was physically working at something …He was virile and full of Life up unto His first of a series of strokes in His mid-seventies

        …within 2 or 3 years His mental clarity debilitated with His physical deterioration …until One day He could no longer communicate, and when We looked in His eyes they were blank like We never existed

        …yet, We would be startled when from His still somnolence, He would suddenly break out into a Newfoundland song, remembering fully the lyrics, or a favourite Psalm or prayer, or poem

        …My dad spent the last year of His Life in Ste Anne de Bellevue Veterans’ Hospital …it was extremely painful to My Mother, Sister and I, but My Mother no longer physically was capable to care for Him at home

        …a pair of hospital attendants left My Father unstrapped in His chair, He fell and cracked His skull on the ceramic floor, further damaging His brain

        …as soon as My mother called, I flew back to Montreal from Tokyo …I spent the last 4 days and nights of His Life by His bed, and sometimes sleeping on His bed with Him, always talking with Him non-stop …of course, it was a totally one-way conversation
        …but, I KNEW in My soul, He understood and heard every word I said
        …nothing in the World more important than being a good Father

        _________________________________________________________
        Habitant means PASSIONATE HOCKEY
        http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=423049

        Campaign to Retire Toe Blake’s Number 6 !!!

    • Un Canadien errant says:

      HiS, I don’t have much to add to the matter. I take Toe Blake’s sainthood as canon, genuflect, and move on to stuff I can pretend I know something about.

      I know Maurice Richard was the greatest hockey player who ever lived. My father and all my uncles told me, so there’s no doubt. They saw him play. What else is there to say?

      Well they’ll allow that guys like Elmer Lach and Toe Blake and Doug Harvey were really, really good, and worthy of their respect. That kid Béliveau really was something, props. Boom Boom was a pistol.

      So yeah, Toe Blake was great, and not just because his name had a cameo in “Slap Shot”. I and I guess most other posters don’t have anything to reflect on and support the case.

    • HabinBurlington says:

      So when I go back to the start of this thread, I see the very first three alone mention Toe. Come on, be fair to us, no one hear is doubting the greatness of the man, and many like myself never saw him as a coach or player.

  32. JUST ME says:

    In the what if category i must admit that the Gionta question brought a totally different perspective on what we have and what we were missing. Not saying that it would have solved all our issues cause we got what was coming to us anyway but it just helps to see that if he plays up to par, results will be interesting. Not even counting what the other injured and underachievers should bring extra next season.

    I still am not saying that we have what it takes to drink in the big cup but ,i have come to reason myself not to expect too much next season and cross my fingers that the youngsters will evolve as we would like and maybe a trade or two and who knows ? As long as it looks promising and that the effort is there…

    We still did not see how the new boss will act or react in tough situations or at trade deadline if we are close to making it.

    It will be interesting !

  33. EasternOntarioHabsFan says:

    To assume that we would have a healthy Markov and Gionta (who as JoeyBarrie so skillfully pointed out, would effectively eliminate our shootout and one goal issues) as well as real toughness and a re-vitalized front office and coaching staff and still finish 13th demonstrates almost shocking stupidity and disturbing lack of sense.

    The boys at THN know hockey as well as Snooki, remember how they perdeicted that the 2008-09 Bruins would finish 10th and the 2008-09 Canadiens would finish 1st??

    • alwayssunny says:

      To assume that we would have a healthy Markov demonstrates almost shocking stupidity and disturbing lack of sense.

      • Rozz says:

        Why? has he been injured again that the rest f us haven’t heard of yet? No? Cause as it stands now we do have a healthy Markov and he didn’t get re injured when he came back like every one predicted… in fact he was pivoting off of it just fine and the knee looked to be in good shape (even if he looked a bit out of shape after missing almost 2 years of hockey). Now he’s been working out and preparing for a season properly (as opposed to just “rehabbing” his knee) so I would think that all things are looking up for the Markov situation.. now if we want to question if he will play 100% of what he used to be able to play like.. well that’s one thing. But he IS currently healthy, so to assume that is not stupid or lacking in sense at all… I guess you’re just not so sunny today.. it happens to the best of us lol

        “When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.”

        Mark Twain.

        • Cal says:

          Don’t feed the troll.

          • Rozz says:

            Sorry, my bad… you saying that bring me back to when my mom would tell me to not feed the wild animals when I was a camping as a kid.. I never really learned my lesson I guess

            “When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.”

            Mark Twain.

        • HammerHab says:

          DiPietro is healthy too.

          ———————————–

          It’ll always be Habs Inside/Out to me

    • HammerHab says:

      We were 1-5 in the shootout with Gionta in the lineup. Markov doesn’t shoot in the shootout unless it goes 6 or so rounds. Let’s say Gio and Markov play 70+ games (bit of a stretch on Marky’s part) and they get us into OT a few more times than we did last year it doesn’t mean we will win those games and we were more than a couple points out of a playoff spot.

      And another thing. Why is it assumed that if Markov & Gio play a full season and add 10 more goals (assuming they score 20 goals more than they did last season and taking away 10 goals from their replacements last season) that those 10 goals will be either game tying or game winning goals? I think it’s safe to say 1-2 of those 10 goals will be game changers. Hell, all 10 of those goals could be in 4-1 wins or 5-2 losses and it makes those extra goals irrelevant.

      ———————————–

      It’ll always be Habs Inside/Out to me

      • commandant says:

        Do we even get into the shootout as often if those guys play the entire game?

        As for the goals being game changers… we had a better GF/GA ratio than many teams who finished above us in the standings, and many teams who made the playoffs. What this tells us is that we lost a higher percentage of one goal games than is statistically normal. This also means that any additional goals we get, and any additional goals prevented (Markov is pretty good defensively too), would have a huge outcome on results.

        And you never answered why it is unreasonable to expect a team that was injured a lot one season to be a lot healthier the next….. we basically did the opposite of that between 07-08 (not injured) and 2008-09 (many long term injuries).

        Injuries are mostly random events.

        Go Habs Go!
        Check out Top Shelf Prospects, my Team by Team prospect reports
        http://lastwordonsports.com/

        • EasternOntarioHabsFan says:

          It is impossible to predict injuries, assuming that one can predict injuries also demonstrates a lack of sense. Just because we were healthy in 08 did not mean we would not be injured in 09

          just because we were injury prone in 2011-12 does not necessarily mean that the same will happen in 2012-13.

          you’ve dug yourself a hole mon ami

          • commandant says:

            I agree with you EOHF.

            It was Hammer Hab who was arguing earlier that because we were the most injured team last year it was unrealistic for us to expect a healthy season this year.

            My argument is that injuries are random. So random that we have as good a chance of being the most injured team as we do of being the least injured. We can’t control it and just because we were badly injured last year doesn’t mean that we have some predisposition to injuries (as a team).

            Go Habs Go!
            Check out Top Shelf Prospects, my Team by Team prospect reports
            http://lastwordonsports.com/

        • HammerHab says:

          We’ve had bad luck in the injury department pretty much since 08-09. This consistent injury track record shows an issue with the training staff. Unless the new management has also overhauled the training staff I don’t see a drastic improvement. Certain players are injury prone (predictable) and some have freak accidents (unpredictable, but not impossible). We are not immune to freak injuries. Gionta, Pacioretty, Markov are some recent ones that come to mind.

          ———————————–

          It’ll always be Habs Inside/Out to me

      • Rozz says:

        Very good point about the extra goals

        “When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.”

        Mark Twain.

  34. chilli says:

    The most honest thing I have heard anyone say in Habs management about the current Habs was the day after Brisebois got hired: “we need to wait a few years for a some contracts to expire”… and that my friends, also includes Markov.

    I am happy with what MB has done – the team will likely finish out of a playoff spot but so what, we need contracts to expire and the best thing about last season was picking up that #3 pick. We played 4 less games than #1 Vancouver.

    This team needs to be primed for 2 years from now. Our #3 will be ready, and why we need Subby to sign for more than 2 years (or he’ll be gone).

    The playoffs are a crapshoot. Anyone can win. The Kings made it in on the last weekend.

    Also, MB has shown us how bare-bones the Habs organization was. It was basically PG and BG talking to each other. MB has filled all these new roles where we have been void in the last 4 years.

    I support what MB has done, players will start to want to come play in Montreal again with the class he has shown. And we have an owner backing him 100%.

    Oh, and Kaberle will lead our D in points.

    Tre

  35. shiram says:

    Voted first to fourth, just because it seems to annoy some people around here.

    • Habfan10912 says:

      :). If your prediction skills are as good as your poutine recommendations, no one could argue.

      ———————————–

      • shiram says:

        I’ve been introduced to Five Guys recently, no poutine but their burgers and hot-dogs are great!

        • Psycho29 says:

          What you do with 5 guys on your lunch hour is your business. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!!!!!! ;-)

          Seriously, great burgers there! I don’t think the one out here in Vaudreuil serves hot-dogs.

        • Bripro says:

          They’re good, but expensive.
          If you want the absolute best burger around, go off island into Kahnawake, direction Chateauguay, and in the Poker palace is the Rail restaurant.
          Ask for the rail burger….. unbelievable.

        • Rozz says:

          we’ve got one here in Kamloops … not gonna lie, I wasn’t overly impressed for the price. I mean it was good, but If I’m paying damn near $20.00 at a fast food joint for a burger and fries its should blow your mind.. but that’s just my opinion..

          “When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.”

          Mark Twain.

    • commandant says:

      The idea might have worked when I first heard it, but not with him as the head. It shows that this group is a clown show IMO.

      No legit business or legal background.

      Tons of post-hockey ventures, all epic failures.

      Laraque as director of the CHLPA shows the organization is a joke.

      Go Habs Go!
      Check out Top Shelf Prospects, my Team by Team prospect reports
      http://lastwordonsports.com/

  36. Gerry H says:

    I don’t think the poll results are all that out of whack, given the options. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to see this team as being on the bubble for a playoff berth. The voting options don’t really include that, so human nature rounds up to 5th-8th.

    • neumann103 says:

      Agreed gerry

      I would have taken 6th to 9th or 7th to 10th if those were offered as options.

      “Et le but!”

    • CharlieHodgeFan says:

      Agreed. I figure there’s a legitimate shot at 8th, if the team stays healthy and the competition doesn’t. That doesn’t mean I feel it’s a shoo-in. Plus, in a 30 game season, a lot can happen.

  37. HabFab says:

    Brian Willsie off to play in TPS of the Finnish League, believe them to play in Turku where we have a long time poster.

  38. HardHabits says:

    I admit I am also tinged by delusion. After all… I voted 9th to 12th. That is obvious optimism.

    • HammerHab says:

      I think that’s a fair expectation of the team. I think everyone can agree that last year the Habs underachieved for a number of reasons which I don’t need to remind anyone of. The positive side of it is that we added a few minor pieces, nothing that will make a huge impact but will help nonetheless, Bourque and Gomez can’t be any worse, and we shouldn’t suffer as many injuries as we did last year. The negative side is that there is a high possibility for Markov to re-injure himself, now that Price has signed the big contract he may not play up to those expectations, Therrien could be worse than JM, Cole and DD may not be able to match their previous season’s, if he isn’t signed by the start of the season PK could be disgruntled etc. Some people think all the positives will happen, the truth is some of the positives will happen and some won’t. Some people think all the negatives will happen, the truth is some of the negatives will happen and some won’t. The point is, don’t expect a division championship, but also don’t expect a dead last finish. I also voted 9-12.

      ———————————–

      It’ll always be Habs Inside/Out to me

  39. HammerHab says:

    More people think we’ll finish 1-4 than 13-15? Delusional.

    ———————————–

    It’ll always be Habs Inside/Out to me

  40. punkster says:

    I see the Reality Rascals have returned to beat down the Delusional Dudes and show them the true path to enlightened and rational thought.

    F_ this…back to the golf course for me.

    ***Subbang Baby!!!***

    • B says:

      That article refers to another one of Stu’s articles (very interesting reading IMO) which discusses what is and is not included in HRR (Hockey Related Revenues):

      http://nhl-red-light.si.com/2012/08/08/what-is-hockey-related-revenue/?sct=nhl_wr_a1

      A little while ago, Zepfan asked if things like concessions and parking are included. I did not know the answer back then, but Stu’s article indicates that they are included:

      “HRR includes money from regular season and playoff gate receipts; preseason and special games (such as international exhibitions); national, international and national digital broadcasts; the NHL Network; all local cable, over-the-air, pay-per-view and satellite TV broadcasts; local radio; club internet sites; all club publications, merchandise and novelty items sold in and out of arenas; concessions; luxury boxes, suites and premium seats; fixed and temporary signage and arena sponsorships; rink board advertising; parking in club operated facilities; and some other stuff. Pretty much what you’d expect.”

      The article also mentions what is not included in HRR:

      “The current CBA excludes the following items from HRR: money teams make from waiver claims on players; money the NHL makes from moving teams or granting expansion franchises; revenues that teams receive from operating other clubs, such as AHL affiliates; fines collected from players and teams; any money teams make through financial transactions, such as loans, interest income or investments; and the sale or leasing of real estate.”

  41. joeybarrie says:

    If Gionta were healthy would we have made the playoffs?
    That post made me think.
    Lets say Gionta would have added 13 more goals given his production for a full season. And considering he is our best shootout scorer. Our team would have looked like this.
    Tied for 9th in GF
    7th in goal diff.
    5th in GA
    Probably wouldn’t have gone 5-12 in shootouts.
    Probably wouldn’t have gone to overtime in all of the games we did
    Probably wouldn’t have lost all those 1 goal games.

    6 losses by one goal with Gio out.
    13 games went to overtime, we lost 11 of them either in OT or SO.
    So we lost 23 points in 18 games because on one goal, whether it be in a SO or in game time.
    give us 13 more goals during all this and we tie at least 3 of those games. We win half of what we played in SO. So we get at least 10 more points to be conservative.
    88 points puts us 4 points out of the playoffs.
    would we still have fired JM. Installed an inexperienced coach who had a terrible initial run. And a different end to the season.

    It is to me, fairly conceivable that with another top 6 forward and our captain on the ice, we could have fought for the playoffs.

    But in the end we didn’t….

    That being said. To say we will not fight for the playoffs this season, should we have what is considered a normal amount of injuries is naive. But then again we analyse in Montreal like no other city does in Hockey. Not one of my friends here know who Markov is. Not one of them can even name the Captain of the Habs. This leads me to realise that people like writers for THN, basically looked at the trades and the changes to the new season and judged based on that.
    Without Markov and Gio…
    Yup, 13th.

    • TomNickle says:

      To assume that last year’s results slightly improved will translate into a better opportunity to make the playoffs is to disregard the improvement of and regression of other teams in the conference.

      Joey, it’s you who is focusing on the Habs alone.

      3 of 12 teams to finish last have made the playoffs the following season since the lockout. They were Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Florida.

    • HammerHab says:

      Interesting analysis. However, the team’s record with him inthe lineup tells the real story. 14-12-7. Prorated out would be an 84-86ish point season, out of the playoffs. With our low amount of wins we would have needed 93 points to get into the playoffs last year. Even turning around 5 of those OT losses to wins would not have been enough. And of the OT games Gio played in? We went 1-5 in the shootout with Gio scoring 2/4 times, and he got the winner in our 1 shootout win. I love Gio as much as the next guy but a healthy Gio last season does not make us a playoff team.

      ———————————–

      It’ll always be Habs Inside/Out to me

      • Habsrule1 says:

        What about a healthy Gionta & a healthy Markov?

        Go Habs Go!!

        “Fans are great, but the quickest way to start losing is to listen to them.” – Sam Pollock

        • HammerHab says:

          Again, you’re talking about a perfect scenario. I’ll reiterate from my reply below:

          “Do you really think we will go from the most man games lost to among the fewest man games lost in one year?”

          Let’s assume Markov & Gionta are healthy. If we do that however we should also assume someone else gets hurt. What if one of Pacioretty, Cole, Plekanec, Gorges, Subban, or God forbid Price gets hurt? If you make your predictions based on no injuries and everything going right those predictions will be wrong every time.

          ———————————–

          It’ll always be Habs Inside/Out to me

          • Chris says:

            Sure, but the player that gets injured is important.

            Is we lose Emelin for 50 games, that probably has a far lower impact than losing Markov for 50 games.

            Similarly, losing Gionta for another 50 games hurts far more than losing Moen for 50 games.

            Injuries will happen. But it isn’t unreasonable to question what happens if the core guys stay relatively healthy.

            Markov has suffered two major knee injuries in two seasons, so speculations on his injury susceptibility this season are fair. Gionta is coming back from a torn bicep, a somewhat freak injury that I suspect he will never suffer again.

          • HammerHab says:

            The guys I mentioned are our core guys. Even if we lose Emelin we lose 1 of the few guys who are physical and can move bodies on defense. Losing 2 of Moen, White or Prust puts our bottom 6 pretty much where it was last year, and it was our weak bottom 6 that resulted in many lost games in the 3rd period. All I’m saying is you can’t assume everything will be better, everyone will improve upon last years numbers and that everyone will be healthy.

            ———————————–

            It’ll always be Habs Inside/Out to me

        • Bripro says:

          100% Chris. I just hope that Markov is close to being the dominant player he was prior to his string of injuries.

  42. TomNickle says:

    Assuming there is a season. The voting booth here must have been flooded with fans who’ve visions of unicorns and lollipops in their heads. Fifth to Eighth?

    Okay.

    Rangers- Added Rick Nash. Another year of experience for Del Zotto, McDonagh and Staal. A full season and more experience for Carl Hagelin and Chris Kreider. Not leap frogging them.

    Bruins – Should have Horton back, a more significant role for Seguin, Thomas will no longer be a dividing presence. Highly unlikely that they take a step back from last season.

    Capitals – Healthy Backstrom and Green. More experience for Carlson and Alzner. A few kids coming along too. If they get something in between the goaltending they got in the playoffs and during the regular season they’ll be a tough cookie playing in a weak division.

    Flyers – If they put together a poor man’s group of defensemen they’ll win the conference running away.

    Penguins – Healthy Crosby, competition for Fleury in net. Not taking a step back either.

    Carolina – Added Semin and Staal. Still have Eric Staal, Jeff Skinner, Justin Faulk and they were one of the better teams down the stretch with Muller. Highly likely to take a step forward.

    Florida – Adding Huberdeau to a team that was hard to beat last year.

    Tampa – Added a defenseman and a goalie to a roster needing one of both to take a big step forward.

    Habs – Added some grit at the bottom of the lineup. This team will be LUCKY if they finish any higher than 9th. So if you voted yes to the Habs finishing from 5th to 8th you either have very little clue where this team sits among its competition in the Eastern Conference or you believe that leprechaun sitting on your desk will translate into victories for the Bleu, blanc et rouge.

    • Bripro says:

      Ah.. the return of the prodigal son.
      I guess some were looking for confrontation last week, asking where you were.
      One said you had graduated from a Nickle to a Dime bag.
      I told them they could probably find you in the Loony bin. ;)
      It’s nice to have a sparring partner back.
      All is (better) in the world.
      I hope you’ve had a good summer, otherwise it won’t be a good time here.

    • joeybarrie says:

      Montreal add a star number one Defenseman and a Captain.
      Another year of experience for PK Subban, Lars Eller and Carey Price.
      Much better bottom pairing players who will help to ensure we don’t lose 25 points in the final few minutes of the games like we did last season.
      The thing with the adding of players is you forgot to MINUS them to other teams. Like Adding Staal to Carolina, Means losing him in Pitts.
      Florida only made the playoffs cause their division sucks.

      I think you misread how close the East is. In all honesty like I said above, give us a guy who can score in a shootout and we would probably have 6-7 additional points from last season alone.

      Give us a top PP and an additional 20 goals, which is very very likely going to be the least of the effect of having GIO and MARKOV back and we would have beennin the playoffs easily.

      • TomNickle says:

        If you want to play the what if game we can. Plekanec’s best days could be behind him, it’s unlikely Markov recaptures the form that he showed prior to the knee problems which could be considered chronic at this point, Cole is a year older, Lars Eller will not improve if he isn’t give the opportunity and since he’s looking up at Desharnais and Plekanec that opportunity isn’t likely to happen.

        This team hasn’t addressed its inability to score, hasn’t added a piece to the powerplay that could improve its results, hasn’t added an upgrade on defense unless you consider Bouillon an upgrade.

        Pittsburgh got one of the best third line centreman in the league back in that trade with Brandon Sutter by the way.

      • HammerHab says:

        In your analysis did you take away the goals that Markov & Gio’s replacements got? If they scored 10 goals and you predict Gio & Markov would get an additional 20 that’s a difference of 10, not 20.

        ———————————–

        It’ll always be Habs Inside/Out to me

    • HabinBurlington says:

      Bruins, while Rask has good numbers, in his season as starter he didn’t look so good. Never know how a young goalie reacts when suddenly they have all the pressure. Horton, until shown to be fully health you never know.

      Washington, – Semins numbers have to be replaced by somebody, no new young kid will replace.

      Philly – Their defence is very questionable as of now.

      Florida – has questions in net, but otherwise agree.

      Tampa – their questions are as big as Montreals.

      Welcome back Tom, always good to read your posts and discuss hockey with you. CHeers.

      • Bripro says:

        Bruins – Goaltending becomes THE issue.
        Washington – Goaltending AND defence an issue.
        Philly – Goaltending is ALWAYS an issue. Now, so is their D. I’m not sure their excellent forward corp (best in the East IMO) will be enough to offset.
        Florida – I agree with Joey: They’re hard to beat in their div’n because it’s so poor.
        Tampa – They need more than a goalie and a D. How about a few abled wingmen. I still think they’re bottom dwellers.

        • TomNickle says:

          Defense is an issue in Washington? Really? Carlson, Alzner, Green, Orlov and Schultz should dispel that notion in a hurry.

          • Kooch7800 says:

            I thought there was an issue with Schultz as they kept benching him last year

            “Like Canadian Hip hop..check us out http://www.groovecontrolmusic.com

          • TomNickle says:

            The issue being that they had Wideman and Hamrlik ahead of him. And quite often it was a decision of Schultz or Hamrlik.

          • Chris says:

            Washington’s defence is an issue in that their forwards are not terribly defensively responsible, and Green, Orlov, and Carlson are more offensively oriented while Schultz is prone to big mistakes.

            They made big strides this season under Dale Hunter, but the team performance was not good in the regular season and many of the players were desperately unhappy. With Adam Oates (a rookie head coach) at the helm now, chances are that they will open up their offence a little more, putting more pressure on a defence corps that has a lot of talent but is going to give up a lot of glorious scoring chances.

      • TomNickle says:

        Washington added Mike Ribeiro who more than replaces Semin’s scoring. Florida also has Jakob Markstrom if their starters don’t get the job done, and since they did last season it’s reasonable to assume they will this year. Tampa’s only question now is will Anders Lindback be the real deal. If he isn’t, they’re in trouble I agree.

        And again, 3 of 12 teams since the lockout have made the playoffs the year following finishing last in their conference.

        • Bripro says:

          I would agree that Ribeiro is a step up from Semin….not in the talent category, but rather his play in general. But I’m at a loss to explain how Ribsy has done so well considering that (IMO) he was not that effective with the Habs. Is he a true second-line centre? I’m not so sure.
          Personally, I think McPhee is a very good GM and has addressed some key issues, and his drafting Forsberg I felt was a very astute selection.
          Paying Green a whopping $6MM+/yr for me was a serious gamble. He’ll have to show more inspiration than he has the last two years.
          His other key move was choosing Adam Oates as coach. If he can light the fire under his players like he used to play, they’ll be back on top.
          As for Carlson, his +/- was pretty poor. And refresh my memory…has he been re-signed? …. seems to me he’s Washington’s Subban.
          And yes, he and Alzner were very good in the playoffs, but will this continue this year.
          With Wideman gone, they’re the only two who really stand out, for me.
          Finally, I think the Caps are their own worst enemy.
          Given their talent, there was no real reason why they performed so badly aside from their mental fragility.
          And one has to wonder if this will continue.

    • HabFab says:

      Negative nelly!

    • boing007 says:

      I don’t think that Tampa Bay will be much better than last year.

      Richard R
      Price is an oyster. Unfortunately not all oysters produce pearls.

    • Cal says:

      Looks like you’ve voted 10 times since this morning.

      • TomNickle says:

        I didn’t vote at all because I don’t there will be a season.

        • Cal says:

          I’m thinking a January start if any at all. With Fehr involved, it’ll be later rather than sooner.

          • Bripro says:

            It won’t go that late, if there is to be a season.
            Bettman’s cash cow with NBC is the Winter Classic.
            And that’s around New Year’s eve.
            I would say they’ll hammer out a deal in time for that.
            Or else, the season will be gone altogether, which I don’t see happening.

    • Habsrule1 says:

      You make some good points, Tom, but you seem more open to admitting other teams are good than your own. The Habs could have better seasons from some of their young guns, including Pacioretty, Desharnais, Subban, Emelin, Eller. They could get more production from Markov, Gionta, and Bourque. They will have more of a physical presence with Emelin & Boullion (he’s not big, but he plays big) on defense.
      And yes, I said could….no way to know for sure, but that can be said of many other players, especially ones who have changed teams.
      My personal opinion, regardless of how you think every team in the East improved besides the Habs (I’m paraphrasing), is that if they stay healthier than last season, they will make the playoffs. The poll question did not give us the choice of 7th or 8th, so 5th-8th is the right answer.
      We need work on defense and in the top 6 to get to that 1st-5th slot, in my opinion.

      Go Habs Go!!

      “Fans are great, but the quickest way to start losing is to listen to them.” – Sam Pollock

      • TomNickle says:

        Fifth to eighth isn’t the right answer, it’s your answer.

        And I’m not disregarding the Habs potential for improvement because quite frankly they couldn’t be much worse. I’m saying that the teams ahead of the Habs in last season’s standings haven’t done enough damage to themselves to regress and most have done as much work in improving as the Habs have if not more.

        Better health is an assumption that would bring Gionta and Markov back. Markov will very likely be good but not near where he was prior to the injuries.

        We’re still soft on defense, have done nothing to address a terrible powerplay, have done nothing to address the question of scoring depth and have done nothing to address the stagnant style of game play employed by both Jacques Martin and Michel Therrien.

        This team in my view is unlikely to realize significant improvement that would see it make the playoffs. Teams like Tampa Bay and Carolina have made much more significant moves that will likely see them take huge steps forward.

        And who’s taking a step back? Maybe Ottawa, Washington and New Jersey. Maybe.

        • Chris says:

          We have absolutely done something to repair a terrible powerplay in the addition of Andrei Markov. He will make a decent difference there, because any lack of mobility won’t be as big an issue.

          We can’t possibly know if anything has been done to address a stagnant style of game play employed by Martin because we haven’t seen what Therrien is going to do. You’re counting the chickens before they are hatched. Therrien coached the Habs in 2001-02 to 2.52 goals per game, good for 19th in the league and the same amount as what they posted last season. But this has to be considered in light of that 2001-02 was in the midst of the Dead-Puck Era, when scoring was way down, and the roster he had to work with was abysmal, moreso due to the loss of Saku Koivu due to cancer. I think this year’s roster is more offensively gifted than the likes of Yanic Perreault, Oleg Petrov, Richard Zednik and 38 year old Doug Gilmour. The defence corps is certainly no worse than a group led by Craig Rivet, Karl Dykhuis, Stephane Quintal and Patrice Brisebois.

          • TomNickle says:

            He coaches a remarkably similar game as Martin. It isn’t far fetched at all to believe the style of play will remain the same.

            As for Markov, I’m optimistic but if there was ever a counting chickens before they hatch argument, his involvement on this team improving it with the injuries he’s sustained is doing it.

          • Chris says:

            Like I said, I am definitely anticipating the reality that Markov’s overall level of play might be diminished, both by rust and age.

            But he still has his vision, and the power play was never really set up around Markov’s skating. He was not generally the primary puck carrier to enter the zone, but once the Habs are set up he can be at his left point position and do exceedingly well. The power play is the one place where I think Markov can continue to play at his former level.

            I am expecting Markov’s reduction of play, if it happens, to be most apparent on the penalty kill and 5-on-5. Fortunately, with Gorges and Subban, the team will not need him to the same degree that it once did on the penalty kill.

        • Habsrule1 says:

          You’re right…I miss-typed. I just meant that 5th may seem far-fetched, but to many, 7th or 8th might not be.

          I agree they could use more scoring, but I also believe Gionta, Markov and Bourque MAY provide that. It’s what I’m banking on, really. If they don’t add at the very least, the 40-50 goals we need, than you will likely be right. History states they will, but after injuries, who really knows? Same can be said of Bourque. Yes, he has done it, but there are no guarantees he will ever do it in Montreal….but the same can be said for many other players also.
          All the Habs can do is see how these guys do, and make the necessary changes. My prediction is based on my belief that these players will play like they have in the past, or at least be about 70% as good as they have been….and if not, the Habs will make the adjustments they need to get to 7th or 8th place, with the idea that the moves made might propel them for the future as well.
          If these players cannot get to at least 70% of what I think they can do, and the Habs do not address it, then they will finish 13th-15th, so perhaps, that is what THN is banking on.

          Go Habs Go!!

          “Fans are great, but the quickest way to start losing is to listen to them.” – Sam Pollock

        • habs-fan-84 says:

          I don’t know how you can say they have not improved their PP? You’re being dishonest, with Markov back, the PP immediately gets better, a lot better.

          Markov was able to play the last 20 or so games of the season; I do not discount the psychological boost he must experienced knowing he can still play. With a summer of training, I have no doubt his knee injuries are behind him. Naturally there will be some rust, but I expect by December he’s at LEAST 85% of his former self.

        • Garbo says:

          Flip flop on Washington?

    • Kooch7800 says:

      I think this year it will be East Conf taking into account divisions

      1. Rangers
      2. Bruins
      3. Florida
      4. Pens
      5. Caps
      6. Carolina

      The rest of the teams I think the habs can compete with. I still think they are short a stay at home D man and a top 6 winger

      • Cal says:

        1. Rangers lost Dubinsky and Anisimov and gained Nash.
        2. Bruins lost Tea Party Timmy and gained…Malcolm Subban. Signing 4th liner Thornton to mutliple years is also problematic. With Secret Agent Pouliot gone, the Bs may be better. It could be the year Marchand is mashed to a pulp. I’d pay to see that. ;)
        3. Florida may be the strongest of the also-rans. Adding Huberdeau may be enough to win their division by a fair margin. Goaltending is absolutely key down there.
        4. Malkin will have to carry the team after Crosby’s next concussion.
        5. Ribiero replaces Semin. There’s a joke in there somewhere.
        6. Carolina adding another Staal may not do much. Ward has to rebound. Muller’s cheerleading can only do so much. Will Skinner deliver after signing for the big bucks?

    • Chris says:

      One need only look at the 2008-09 Montreal Canadiens to see what value pre-season predictions like this have.

      The 2007-08 Canadiens finished first in their conference and featured a balanced attack with four players scoring 25 goals or more and featured a slew of young players who most people were sure would get better. Tomas Plekanec (24 years old), Andrei Kostitsyn (22), Chris Higgins (24), Guillaume Latendresse (20), Sergei Kostitsyn (20), Maxim Lapierre (22), Mike Komisarek (25), Kyle Chipchura (21), Josh Gorges (23), Ryan O’Byrne (23), Jaroslav Halak (22) and of course Carey Price (22). To that mix were added a winger coming off a point-per-game season (Alex Tanguay) and a quality veteran third line centre that provided leadership and offence (Robert Lang). NOBODY in their right mind would have predicted that that team would just absolutely implode in the second half the following season and be torn apart.

      At least one of those teams you list WILL stumble. It happens every single year. Washington should never have imploded the way they did last season with the talent they had. I would be surprised if anybody foresaw New Jersey’s resurgence.

      Montreal had a dismal season that was compounded by slumps (Cammalleri and Bourque, Gionta, Kostitsyn, Plekanec, Gomez) and injuries (Markov, Cammalleri, Gionta, Spacek Moen) that frequently had players playing in roles they weren’t suited for. Subban should not be playing 25 minutes per game yet, as he still has some maturing to do. Gorges should not be playing 25 minutes per game because he is offensively limited. Moen shouldn’t be anywhere near the top-6.

      I have some predictions too. Markov will help stabilize the Montreal blue line so that we don’t see guys overplayed and played in the wrong roles. A better depth ordering will result from his presence.

      Plekanec will not repeat with a 52 point, -15 season. He will be better.

      Gionta will not be a 0.5 point per game player over a season. He is a streak scorer that never had a chance to get hot. When he does, his offence can mitigate the load a bit for the top line that performed well last season. He also keeps Moen on the third line where he belongs, making that line stronger.

      Price will not lose pretty much every shootout he plays this season.

      Lars Eller will be better than 16 goals and 28 points.

      Montreal has players that can and probably will step up, just like every other team. I’m still not sure they make the playoffs, but I wouldn’t be shocked if they did.

      • TomNickle says:

        Winnipeg – Bogosian and Byfuglein have underachieved. They were terrible at centre last year and have added Jokinen and Burmistrov is probably going to take a big step forward. I’m not a fan of Jokinen but he’ll be an immediate upgrade on Jim Slater in his role.

        Buffalo – Added Cody Hodgson and Steve Ott. Margus Foligno showed great promise last year and will likely have a year long role on the team. Myers isn’t likely to repeat a bad season.

        The improvement of the other teams on the outside looking in is noteworthy.

        The Habs will see improvement from some and regression from others no doubt. But have they done enough to go from 15th to 8th? Highly doubtful. Markov has to play in the majority of games to stabilize our defense group. Gionta will likely get back to form. Eller can only improve if given the opportunity as I said earlier, and looking up at Plekanec and Desharnais makes that unlikely. Speaking of Plekanec, his point totals last season fell right around his career average, expecting significant improvement from him is wishful thinking. A better season defensively is almost a given for him without improved play from whatever wingers he has we could see a repeat.

        I expect Subban, Emelin, Diaz, Pacioretty and Bourque to improve, Desharnais, Gorges and Cole to take a step back and Plekanec, Eller, Gionta and Gomez to maintain the status quo.

        • Chris says:

          For me, Montreal was not truly a 15th place team…that was the effect of a lot of injuries and a coach that they quit on. Once the season was lost, there wasn’t much left to play for.

          New Jersey quit on MacLean the year before, and then came on last season, jumping from 11th to 6th. Markov and Gionta are not the caliber of Parise (far from it), but their combined effect isn’t that far off.

          And I would argue that Montreal has far more room for improvement from its kids than New Jersey did last season. They got a big, unexpected year from Henrique, but Larsson was a bit of a disappointment.

          Some teams will surprise, others will disappoint. It happens every single year. Last year, everybody was touting Buffalo as a can’t miss team to jump up because of their young talent and the additions of Regehr and Ehrhoff. Instead, they flopped terribly.

          If I’m looking for teams to flop out of the top 8, I put:

          Ottawa – They will steadily improve, but this year could see a brief regression as they played a bit over their heads last season and Karlsson will be very hard pressed to match last season’s heroics

          Boston – Rask is good, but he has no support behind him and I’m not sure he can match Thomas’s All-World level, while Horton could be looking at an off-year like Bergeron did in recovering from his serious concussion, his second major concussion in two seasons

          New Jersey – They lost Parise…without him, they were in the doldrums the previous year. No reason to expect they might not be again, especially is Martin Brodeur is closer to his form of the past few years than his form of the playoffs last season

          Philadelphia – Big questions on defence, obviously, but what about the loss of Jagr? Do they have somebody that can fill his shoes with Giroux, and what will be the effect on the lower line depth that has been so important to their success?

          Florida – Huberdeau is a rookie…I’m not counting on big things this season, at least not until the second half. But they were another team that got maximal points out of a mediocre team. They scored 10 fewer goals while giving up 2 more on the season, yet finished 16 points ahead of the Habs. That is a fishy record that speaks to a bit of good luck, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them fall.

          That’s 5 teams in the playoffs that I could easily see falling back. There is no question in my mind that Montreal is 6-10 points better this season simply because they had EVERYTHING go wrong last season and it is unrealistic to expect that to happen twice. If some of the teams in front of them fall by even 5 points, not a huge amount, that is a 15 point swing in the standings in Montreal’s favour. And that has them right in the thick of the battle for the 8th playoff spot.

          Like I said, I’m not expecting that they will get there, but it can very easily happen. A couple of teams surprise in good and bad ways in each conference every year, so Montreal could easily be one of them.

    • Cal says:

      As the man himself would say (and this thread did begin with his 100th birthday), “Predictions are for gypsies!”

    • Un Canadien errant says:

      Ah yes, the game where we figure out which team improved. We always glibly say that so and so improved because they traded for a defenceman, they ‘added’ a gritty centre, but we never subtract anything. We never take into account that the career years of the previous season won’t re-occur. We never subtract the player we dealt for the defenceman. We never subtract the additional wear and tear on the core group.

      http://relentlessineptitude.blogspot.ca/2011/07/interesting-take-by-mr.html

      Not that I disagree with your analysis, it’s as valid as anyone else’s take, but I was looking for a specific angle and inconsistency, and I found it: you allow Carolina the benefit of adding Alex Semin, but don’t subtract that lost benefit from Washington. So one team loses a player, another adds a player, but both benefit. If we think of intangibles and players ‘needing a change’, maybe this makes sense, but adding up all these transactions is not a pure actuarial exercise. There’s a lot of guesstimation involved.

      Last year I was hopeful for a strong showing from the Canadiens, until I went through the same exercise you did, and asked myself which of the teams in the East are clearly better, and came up with a list of 6 or so. That’s when I curbed my unbridled optimism and realized we were in a dogfight to even make the playoffs.

      Good to have you back Tom.

      • TomNickle says:

        Caps added Ribeiro Normand. They don’t play the same position but they are near equal in offensive threat and production.

        :)

        • Un Canadien errant says:

          So they didn’t improve then, they just kept up with the treadmill. Lose Alex Semin, add Mike Ribeiro, keep treading water.

          Also, do we not subtract Cody Eakin from the Caps?

          • TomNickle says:

            Backstrom won’t be battling a recent concussion all season long. Ditto for Green. They also added Wolski.

            They aren’t a likely candidate to take a step back. If we’re to improve because of improved health, so must the Capitals.

          • Un Canadien errant says:

            Granted, but my general point remains. We take a team’s positives as givens, they’re set, then we add pluses for each player acquired in trade or free agency, then concluded that it’s obvious the team improved. We do that for every team, and find that most of them improved, as I pointed out in my post from last summer, which I linked above.

            I see it in both sports I follow, NFL and NHL. The classic case is the Chiefs, who will get back Tony Moeaki, Eric Berry and Jamaal Charles back from injury, all Pro Bowlers. They got a new coach in Romeo Crennel, who should provide for better morale on the team. Their draft picks were awesome. They signed Peyton Hillis, and a new offensive tackle. Bla bla bla.

            I never hear about how everyone else is one year older and more banged up. How they lost a starting corner and replaced him with a Raiders reject. How Tamba Hali has a suspension for a drug violation. All everyone talks about the additions, the improvements.

    • Rozz says:

      I agree with most things here… but I disagree with the parts about the Bruins and Flyers…

      Boston just lost their best assets (whether we like the guy or not) Thomas was the Main reason they got themselves a cup and made the playoffs this past year. when he was “on” they killed, when he looked shaky (like at the beginning of last year) they suffered severely (yes mind you a lot of them looked bad at the beginning of the year)… now Rask is alright but I don’t think the team plays with as much confidence with him in net as with Timmy. I expect a bit of a fall apart from them this season… and it’s not far-fetched to believe that it can happen… imagine we got Price playing some of his best hockey… Galchenyuk playing good and coming along nicely… and PK on his game… and Patches, DD, and Cole are just blazing away… everything is clicking and then Price takes a year off… do you think we’d be a lock for the next season? Thomas was in a lot of other teams heads cause when he was on you couldn’t get anything by him especially in the 2010/11 cup run… that gets into players’ minds and helps control the psychological aspect of the game… I don’t think any team is worrying about having to face Rask in net now and there for will be playing a lot differently against them… now a lot of this is from the gut but that how I see it

      As for philly… well let’s face it… you can score 6 goals a game but if your defence and goal tending are allowing 7,8,or 9 goals a game you’re not gonna win. And really the devils showed how to take them apart in the last playoffs… its by not giving into Philly’s game and by making Philly play a more defence oriented game… you do that and you beat them. And as of right now I don’t see Philly fixing their goal tending and defence any time soon without some sort of miracle so I don’t believe their a “lock” either

      Now that being said I don’t expect these teams to be in the basement … just not as much of a “lock” as others are assuming… if they make the show I’d say they are gonna be the 5th – 8th spot range.

      But this is all assuming there is even gonna be a season… and if not… well then all bets are off on who will make the show after a year of a lock out

      “When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.”

      Mark Twain.

  43. mark-ID says:

    Living in Ottawa….I obviously have a bit of a competition with Ottawa fans. Who here thinks Ottawa will still make the playoffs this year? Also do you still think they will finish ahead of us in the standings?

    I for one think they overachieved last year. The Habs had no problems beating Ottawa either. Alfie is one year older….can Karlson match last years point totals? Will Latendresse still love poutine? Lots of questions there also.

    Thoughts?

    “I think I may have found a way for us to get Griffey and Bonds, and we really won’t have to give up much” -Costanza

    • TomNickle says:

      All comes down to Cowen. If he continues to trend upward in his development they’ll probably be where they were last year. If he takes an expected step back, they could be on the outside looking in. I think the Sens and Habs are in a similar boat with the Habs getting the edge because of their goaltending.

      Or simply put, I don’t see the Sens repeating last year’s success and don’t feel they’ll make the playoffs.

      • mark-ID says:

        man….I remember a few years ago when the Sens had Heatley….and they destroyed Montreal all the time. Those days were the worst. Hopefully times are a changing.

        “I think I may have found a way for us to get Griffey and Bonds, and we really won’t have to give up much” -Costanza

    • Kooch7800 says:

      I think they are a worse team now than they were last year. They let all of their sandpaper go with no replacement and have added Latts….who knows if he can stay healthy.

      Ottawa will be a bubble team this year

    • Phil C says:

      The Sens look great up front with Silfverberg and Zibanejad ready to play in the NHL. Turris and Greening should be ready to take another step forward. Michalek and Spezza are only 27 and 29 respectively, so they should continue to produce. They have some great depth/role players with Neil, Smith, Daugavins, etc. Stone didn’t look out of place in a top six role last year in the playoffs, although he likely won’t make the starting lineup.
      Scoring, toughness, depth…the Sens look good up front.

      On defense, Karlsson, Gonchar, Methot, Phillips, and Cowan are not bad as your top five, but otherwise they really lack depth. Cowan (6’5″, 230lbs) looked really good at times last year. But if they run into injuries on defense, they could have problems, especially if Anderson gets injured as well. They went into a tailspin when Anderson missed games last year.

      Long story short, if their defense plays well and stays healthy, they will challenge for first in the division. If the defense struggles, they will be in the group of 8 teams fighting for the last three playoff spots.

  44. Strummer says:

    Toe Blake shares a birthday with Joe Strummer born 60 years ago today.

    Two of the greats.

    ______________________________________________________
    “It’s just an opinion – I could be wrong”

  45. DorvalTony says:

    I don’t think that’s appropriate. Why not celebrate his life and achievements? Strange way to remember the man, by the last couple of years of illness rather than 70 years of greatness and triumph.

    • bleedhabs81 says:

      They are celebrating that he was a man… not an achievement. For as amazing as he was he is just like everyone else, mortal and suscpetable to time.

      I think it was a great story.

  46. mrhabby says:

    lots of chatter about habs and the playoffs.

    me thinks its very possible ..but they still have only 1 line. i can’t really see the cole line duplicating what they did last year. the team still has issues down the middle with pleks , gomez, and for the life of me can we get someone to play with pleks. MB has work to do on the offence.

    The defence is still soft (maybe iam wrong) it just needs some bad ass.
    Aside from the injuries the habs had last year there was no depth..how many calls up were there?
    .
    MB has lots of work to do. Since has has no ties to any of these players (exclude core) i can see quiet of few of the old guard leaving in the next year when ever that is.

  47. HabinBurlington says:

    Primarily a story about Oiler information, but apparantly Larionov says his client Sergei Samsonov will be having a tryout with the Sharks if the season opens on schedule.

    http://www.edmontonjournal.com/sports/hockey/edmonton-oilers/Yakupov+gets+little+roadrash+treadmill/7118867/story.html

  48. HabinBurlington says:

    In the event of lockout/strike/workstoppage, what happens to players currently injured? I think specifically of Marc Savard, who clearly is not healthy to play, however, because Boston did not need the capspace last year, it is my understanding he was not placed on the LTIR. Would the insurance aspect of his contract already have kicked in or are the Bruins still cutting him his cheques.

    Would any team in this league (ahem, cough, Flyers or Bruins) ever try use a work stoppage as an excuse to not pay such an injured player if it were possible, I am thinking of Pronger now in Philly.

    My guess is that such injured players are paid no matter what, but am not 100% sure. Also, wasn’t Gomez technically injured when last season ended, not trying to fuel anything here, but curious.

    • commandant says:

      Players who are injured get paid.

      Which is why the Islanders had Rick DiPietro take a physical a few weeks ago and took him off IR in the middle of the summer

      Go Habs Go!
      Check out Top Shelf Prospects, my Team by Team prospect reports
      http://lastwordonsports.com/

      • HabinBurlington says:

        Thanks Ben, I figured as much but wasn’t sure. Sure would get ugly if there were some teams and players where there were disagreements over whether or not the teams thought the player in questions was still suffering from the injury of the previous season.

        There must be some concussion related injuries where I could see this being a contentious situation with some teams.

      • Bripro says:

        BTW Ben, I saw your comment of last night saying how you saw AC DC twice.
        The only time I saw them was 4-5 years ago, when I took my son to his first rock concert, at the Olympic Stadium.
        I’ve been there for 2 concerts prior, including the famous Pink Floyd’s animals concert.
        At the time, the sound was so bad from bouncing off the walls, that unless you were centre floor, you couldn’t hear properly.
        But the AC DC concert was so loud, and we were in fact on the floor, that it was a great venue.
        I still haven’t regained my hearing though….

        • commandant says:

          The first time I saw them was at Sars Stock with 600,000 people in Downsview Park in Toronto. We were in the Molson VIP zone and had great seats. I loved them, and of course the Stones.

          Go Habs Go!
          Check out Top Shelf Prospects, my Team by Team prospect reports
          http://lastwordonsports.com/

    • joeybarrie says:

      I believe they get paid. Isn’t that why the Islanders activated Dipietro?

  49. Habsrule1 says:

    I’m trying to understand why anyone (THN included) would put the Habs out of the playoffs this season.
    Say it’s just an excuse if you want, but with half the injuries we had (which is what every other team had, or less) the Habs would have made the playoffs last year. Add to that an insane amount of games lost by 1 goal, including in the shootout, and it seems like a no-brainer to me.
    I’m not saying they are ready to tear up the league, but with a healthy Gionta, and at least a somewhat healthy Markov, the Habs are making the playoffs this season, assuming there is a season.

    Go Habs Go!!

    “Fans are great, but the quickest way to start losing is to listen to them.” – Sam Pollock

    • mark-ID says:

      The thing is….THN, and most other predictions…never really give the Habs any props. Even when we make the playoffs the season before….most sites usually predict 8th or lower for the Habs. After a season where we finish dead last in the East…I am not surprised at all to see the Habs ranked at 13th.

      I agree with you 100% though…Montreal had alot of things go really really wrong last year….and there were still stretches where they were very competitive. They showed they could beat any team in the league on several occasions. They barely got blown out…yet blew out a few teams. Unfortunately….our defence was an issue,,,as we gave up way to many leads. Also we were terrible in the shootout, Add on top of that they led the league in injuries……yea they are excuses….but they are something that we should be able to improve on this year.

      I won’t even bother reading any predictions this year….I think Montreal can and will surprise many this year with their play.

      “I think I may have found a way for us to get Griffey and Bonds, and we really won’t have to give up much” -Costanza

      • Habsrule1 says:

        I think you make a good point, mark. With the Habs finishing last a season ago, it’s easy for someone to not bother doing any research or digging whatsoever and just stick the number 13th next to them for the coming season. It’s likely that many people on this site do a similar….calculation.
        I think they can finish 6th or 7th with a healthy team and a bit of luck, but hell, I’ve also been insulted here for being too positive.

        Go Habs Go!!

        “Fans are great, but the quickest way to start losing is to listen to them.” – Sam Pollock

    • HammerHab says:

      You’re assuming nothing will go wrong this year. If we have 1 significant injury our playoff hopes are slim at best. Realistically I’d say we finish 9th-12th.

      ———————————–

      It’ll always be Habs Inside/Out to me

      • Habsrule1 says:

        1 significant injury can be dealt with. I’d say we had at least 2 significant injuries (Gionta & Markov) along with a few other injuries that hurt us a little.
        I think with 1 significant injury, we could still make 8th spot. Any more than that, and we might be in trouble, although less trouble than last year because I think we do have a little more depth now, both in Montreal and in Hamilton.

        Go Habs Go!!

        “Fans are great, but the quickest way to start losing is to listen to them.” – Sam Pollock

        • HammerHab says:

          So you’re saying if Gionta was healthy we would have made the playoffs?

          Only minor injuries to minor players = playoffs
          1 significant injury + minor injuries = 9th-12th
          2 significant injuries + minor injuries = MacKinnon

          Do you really think we will go from the most man games lost to among the fewest man games lost in one year?

          ———————————–

          It’ll always be Habs Inside/Out to me

      • mark-ID says:

        Not at all….things will still go wrong of course, but realistically if we just improved our defensive play in 1 goal games during the third period…..that alone last year would of got us in the playoffs. I don’t know the exact number of 1 goal leads we gave up…..but it was alot. Look it up. That improvement alone would get us closer. This circumstance assumes we still have injuries like last year….which I’m sure we won’t.

        “I think I may have found a way for us to get Griffey and Bonds, and we really won’t have to give up much” -Costanza

    • Kooch7800 says:

      Never put stock in predictions….especially from so called hockey experts at THN LOL

      In all honesty though, this team is a wild card. If they got hot they could do some damage with certain players coming back. No one predicted them coming in last in the East last year…the injuries were huge and management mistakes also contributed to the team being awful. They have addressed the bottom six but other than injured players returning I don’t think this team is better currently than they were last year. There is a big void in the top 6 scoring department and there is a lot of “What if” scenerios…

      There are so many players we are counting on bouncing back

      Armstrong
      Bourque
      Markov
      Pleks
      Gionta

      Also can these players repeat great seasons:

      Cole
      Max
      DD

      Our defense was AWFUL last year and Boulion doesn’t fix all the problems in my opinion.

      I think this team still really needs a top 6 LW and a Big D man that plays stay at home D.

      This team is a wild card for sure

      • HabinBurlington says:

        You don’t have #11 listed as hoping/counting on bounce back? :)

        • Kooch7800 says:

          I was going to put it in but even if Gomez could have a bounce back would you bump DD for gomer?

          I just don’t see him as a fit on this roster anymore with his skill set. Depth player maybe I guess

      • Habsrule1 says:

        Good post Kooch. I agree with most of what you are saying. I am definitely counting on some of the players you mentioned to bounce back. I believe that the team will be somewhat better this season if healthy, and call me crazy but I still think Bourque can help this team. I’m a little confused by why he has been a target of some people. He came here on pace for his 3rd straight 27 goal season, and then he fell off track when he got to a team which was in complete disarray.
        I agree we may need help in the top 6, especially if Bourque & Gionta can’t get to where they should be….same can be said of Plekanec, I guess, but I’m not really worried about him. You’re also right about the top line. Can they repeat? What of Eller and the 3rd line? Or is Gomez getting another chance with the new coach, and if so, how does that affect Eller?
        Lots of questions. I’m pretty excited to see the answers.
        I predict 7th place….somehow.

        Go Habs Go!!

        “Fans are great, but the quickest way to start losing is to listen to them.” – Sam Pollock

        • Kooch7800 says:

          That is what makes hockey fun to watch! I am with you 100% I like bourque as well and think this team will be much better if they stay healthy. I do think though that the D really needs to be addressed even before we had a top 6 goal scorer. Our D was sad to watch last year. I haven’t watched a habs team in awhile that had as much trouble getting pinned in their own zone for such long stretches last year.

      • wjc says:

        Everyone seems to be forgetting the Gomez comeback.

        You heard it here first.

        wjc

  50. secretdragonfly says:

    Effective today, The Gazette is limiting on-line page views of their website to 15 per month for Canadians and 5 per month for international visitors (for non-subscribers). Not sure how this will affect the links from HIO to articles by Messrs. Stubbs, Hickey et al.

    http://www.montrealgazette.com/Note+online+readers/7119320/story.html

  51. John Q Public says:

    My grandfather told a me story that Toe invited him to come to watch practice anytime he wanted.

  52. commandant says:

    Today we look at the San Jose Sharks.

    http://lastwordonsports.com/2012/08/21/top-shelf-prospects-san-jose-sharks/

    Go Habs Go!
    Check out Top Shelf Prospects, my Team by Team prospect reports
    http://lastwordonsports.com/

  53. Ian Cobb says:

    Are there any meetings going on with the PA and the NHL. Or are they waiting for each other side to blink like spoiled kids?????.
    Time is getting very short! I am getting worried!

    • Cal says:

      No worries, Ian. There will be a lockout until January or later. It is, after all, a pissing contest between two “intelligent” parties.
      The players think they should run the league without risking a dime while the owners think they can squeeze more money out of the players. The owners will win; the people who sign the cheques have the power, not the ones desperate to receive them.
      -EDIT- I really do hope I am dead wrong, especially for the Summiteers.

      • HammerHab says:

        Problem is the teams like Nashville and Phoenix can’t afford a lockout. Nashville would get no revenue and have to pay Weber his guaranteed bonus. They would have a very hard time surviving, and Bettman has to make a decision between bowing to the PA’s requests or possibly losing a couple franchises. I don’t think all owners are on the same page, unfortunately its the owners of rich teams that have more control.

        ———————————–

        It’ll always be Habs Inside/Out to me

        • Cal says:

          Nashville has an owner with deep pockets in Brett Wilson. Right now, he owns 12% of the club. Will the Weber deal give him a higher percentage? The Nashville ownership group decided to match even with the lockout almost 100% guaranteed, so I don’t think they are in trouble.
          Phoenix, not having to pay salaries, travel, etc., will not end up so much in the red. The lockout MAY even be a positive development for them.

    • HabFab says:

      Next Fehr and Bettman meeting is Wednesday Ian. Lower level meetings in Committees addressing H&S issues, Pension Plan etc are on going.

  54. accp says:

    Mr. Blake was one of the best and so was his teams…

  55. HardHabits says:

    I see the delusionals got out the vote early.

  56. Habfan10912 says:

    Mankind has many things in common. No matter your walk of life as we age we willl become old, weak, and frail. Its sad to see our loved ones like Otters Mom and our heroes like Toe fall under the grips of this dreaded illness. Cherish every moment we have for sure.
    Thanks for sharing that with us Dave. A relective moment to start our day. CHerrs.
    ———————————–

  57. otter649 says:

    Remember this story when I read Red’s book but struck home years later when my late mother went through dementia/Alzheimer’s……..

  58. HabinBurlington says:

    Thanks for linking the story Dave, I am too young to have any memories of Toe the player or Toe the coach. I do remember watching games and seeing him in the seats, reminded me of a shot of royalty as the camera showed him and the commentators spoke of the great Mr. Blake.


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